|The Delta 2 rocket carries on board|
The Delta 2 rocket for United Launch Alliance, with the satellite NPP (National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project) took off at 9:48 a.m. today (at 7:48 a.m. GMT).
The satellite, which is the size of a SUV and weighs 2.13 tons, will be placed in orbit at 824 km altitude and orbit earth 14 times a day.
The satellite, with an approximate cost of about U.S. $ 2.5 billion, represents the first mission designed to compile data needed to improve weather forecasts in the short term and help better understand about the global warming in the long term.
The NPP has five instruments that will study the temperature and water in the atmosphere, the impact of clouds and aerosols on temperature, and the response of terrestrial plants and marine environmental changes.
The satellite is one of 14 earth observation missions currently administered by NASA. NPP project managers expect the satellite to remain operating for five years.