Providing the most accurate, sophisticated and reliable systems. That's Defining Possible.

rendering of satellite in deep space
NOAA weather Map

Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder

At Northrop Grumman, when it comes to designing space-based weather technologies, our goal has always been the same: to provide the most accurate, sophisticated and reliable systems available. That's why, for over 50 years, we've proudly added our name to more than 100 military-and civilian-use space-based systems.

Our Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) is currently performing successfully on the Soumi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP), the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1 spacecraft, now known officially as NOAA-20 and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 spacecraft, now known officially as NOAA-21. The SNPP ATMS, launched in October 2011, has exceeded its seven-year design life, and both ATMS units are exceeding all performance requirements.

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Nothing Comes Close

ATMS was built to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) newest series of weather satellites and represents the state-of-the-art for microwave instruments.

Our ATMS technology provides a 22-channel microwave radiometer that scientists use to create global temperature and moisture profiles. Meteorologists then utilize this data in weather forecasting models.

ATMS performance provides improved benefits to include: three additional sounding channels, improved sensitivity and calibration accuracy, improved spatial resolution, sampling interval and swath width, improved temperature control stability, longer mission life and reduced mass and power.

ATMS is recognized as the single most important space-based instrument for operational weather forecasting.

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satellite part

Key Features

  • Lightweight and compact package
  • External calibration system with four selectable cold calibration reference positions
  • Highly sensitive 22-channel microwave receivers (23.8 GHz –183.3 GHz) featuring improved sampling and coverage
  • Total power radiometer
  • Continuous cross-track scanning, with torque and momentum compensation
  • Eight hardware redundancy configurations
  • Software upload capability
  • Built-in diagnostics capability
  • Operational Mode that calibrates and collects data autonomously without additional commands

Together, these features provide the most accurate global atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles available. And it doesn’t stop there. Northrop Grumman’s ongoing internal research and development activities are investigating capability enhancements for future programs.

Sounder for Microwave-Based Applications (SMBA) Phase-A Study

A part of NOAA’s Near-Earth Orbit Network (NEON), Northrop Grumman is currently completing the Phase-A Study for the Sounder for Microwave Based Applications (SMBA). SMBA is the follow-on to the ATMS instrument and will define the next generation of microwave sounders. Northrop Grumman is applying its decades of leadership in weather instrumentation to expand our microwave capability to higher frequencies - up to 325 GHz - to support the future of global weather forecasting. 

The People Behind the Technology

No matter how sophisticated the technology a system is only as good as the people who stand behind it. So it just makes sense that our Northrop Grumman family includes the best in the field, from PhDs to master-certified technicians to all the highly trained and dedicated minds in between.

Operating out of Northrop Grumman’s Azusa, California-based Passive Microwave Center of Excellence — a fully equipped, state-of-the-art manufacturing and testing facility — our team’s combined skills and expertise range from advanced microwave  technologies, end-to-end microwave instrument design capabilities, heritage subsystem designs, components, test methods and test equipment, instrument systems engineering, design, manufacturing, integration and testing, program management, spacecraft I&T, launch and post-launch support, and more.

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