A new satellite instrument suite is now sending back detailed information about the health of the Earth's ozone layer, the shield that protects the world's population from harmful levels of the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
The Ozone Mapper and Profiler Suite, or OMPS, is one of five new instruments flying aboard NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP), which was launched on Oct. 28, 2011. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense.
OMPS continues an over three decade-long partnership between NASA and NOAA in studying ozone. OMPS consists of three instruments: the downward-looking nadir mapper and nadir profiler, and a new instrument called the limb profiler.
OMPS data will contribute to observing the recovery of the ozone layer in the coming years. The layer is expected to recover from the effects of the ozone depleting substances like halons or chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) over the coming few decades. This recovery comes as a result of a world-wide agreement in 1987 that phased out the use of these ozone-depleting substances.
"Ozone depletion has been a major concern for decades," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Sevice. "Scientists need reliable observations of ozone from space and OMPS provides them."