Cross-track Infrared Sounder

The 2011 launch of the first Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) aboard a United States Suomi National Polar Partnership (NPP) Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite marked an important breakthrough in technology for severe weather forecasting. An integral part of the Suomi NPP, CrIS is the first United States operational hyperspectral sounding instrument. A multi-spectrum spectrometer, CrIS produces high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, pressure, and moisture profiles from space.

Enabling More Precision in Storm Event Prediction

The accuracy of CrIS soundings has enabled weather forecasters to more accurately predict the path and severity of weather events like tornadoes and snowstorms days in advance of their impact. The sounders’ infrared sensors provide high-resolution data that assists in understanding El Niño and other major climate shifts.

Sounders work by measuring the infrared energy emitted by an atmospheric column from the ground up through the clouds. Before the Harris-built CrIS became operational, sounders provided 19 “slices” of the column. CrIS captures more than 1,000 slices, vastly improving weather forecast models with more detailed information about moisture, temperature, and pressure.

Next-generation JPSS

Capitalizing on the success of Suomi NPP mission, CrIS instruments will fly aboard NOAA’s next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System, or JPSS:

  • JPSS-1 spacecraft, scheduled to launch in 2017
  • JPSS-2 spacecraft, scheduled to launch in 2021