The NPP satellite is the first designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change. Shortly after launch it was renamed the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP spacecraft.
The renaming was in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin who is recognized widely as “the father of satellite meteorology.” He died in 1995 at age 79. Suomi developed the original spin scan radiometers that could image the Earth from orbit as the satellite spun for stabilization. He was also active in planetary mission science especially studies of the Venus and Jupiter atmospheres.
In the NPP image specific U. S. features stand out, like the turquoise costal waters around Florida, the Colorado Plateau and the Grand Canyon area. The plateau appears as a raised circular area about the size of a nickel . If your computer’s mouse is capable of enlarging the image these areas especially stand out when enlarged as does California’s Central Valley.
According to NASA Earth imaging experts the image is the most stunning view of the planet taken since the Apollo program when astronauts took dozens of earth images during their roundtrips to the Moon.
Another series of spectacular earth images was stitched together from several instrument scans with the Terra Earth monitoring spacecraft. This NASA image below has been made especially popular as a “wallpaper” option on the Apple iPhone’s, iPads and computers. Compare it with the new NPP image.