NCEI (formerly NGDC)
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Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites collect visible and infrared cloud imagery as well as monitoring the atmospheric, oceanographic, hydrologic, cryospheric and near-Earth space environments. The DMSP program maintains a constellation of sun-synchronous, near-polar orbiting satellites. The orbital period is 101 minutes and inclination is 99 degrees. The atmospheric and oceanographic sensors record radiances at visible, infrared and microwave wavelengths. The solar geophysical sensors measure ionospheric plasma fluxes, densities, temperatures and velocities. DMSP visible and infrared imagery of clouds covers a 3,000 km swath, thus each satellite provides global coverage of both day night time conditions each day. The field view of the microwave imagers and sounders is only 1,500 km thus approximately 3 days data are required for one instrument to provide global coverage at equatorial latitudes. The solar geophysical instruments make in-situ measurements of ionospheric parameters, some of which vary very rapidly. The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (formerly National Geophysical Data Center) receive the complete DMSP data stream from the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska. Data are currently transmitted in near realtime from AFWA directly to the archive via a designated T1 line. Archive processing prepares orbital data sets of calibrated, quality assessed data organized as a time-series, restores data lost during transmission,and accurately computes satellite positions. NCEI maintains an archive of all data recorded on DMSP satellites as relayed to The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (formerly National Geophysical Data Center) by the Air Force Weather Agency. Data from March 1992 to March 1994, are considered to be experimental. After March 1994, the system was fully operational. NCEI archives contain data that are post process reconstructed, positioned and geolocated using the same software.
Cite this dataset when used as a source.
Dataset Information
Online Access
Distribution Formats
Distributor DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers for Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Dataset Point of Contact DMSP Data Manager
DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers for Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
General Documentation
  • publication: 1992-01-01
Edition: First
Dataset Progress Status Under development
Data Update Frequency: Daily
Purpose: Earth and Near-Earth Environment Research
Use Limitations
  • While every effort has been made to ensure that these data are accurate and reliable within the limits of the current state of the art, NOAA cannot assume liability for any damages caused by any errors or omissions in the data, nor as a result of the failure of the data to function on a particular system. NOAA makes no warranty, expressed or implied, nor does the fact of distribution constitute such a warranty.
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC > National Geophysical Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC > National Geophysical Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers for Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC > National Geophysical Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Time Period: 1975-04-01 to Present
Spatial Bounding Box Coordinates:
N: 90
S: -90
E: 180
W: -180
Spatial Coverage Map:
Theme keywords
  • Earth Science > Atmosphere > Atmospheric Temperature
  • Earth Science > Atmosphere > Atmospheric Water Vapor > Water Vapor
  • Earth Science > Atmosphere > Clouds
  • Earth Science > Atmosphere > Precipitation
  • Earth Science > Biosphere > Ecological Dynamics > Fire Occurrence
  • Earth Science > Hydrosphere > Snow/Ice
  • Earth Science > Hydrosphere > Surface Water
  • Earth Science > Hydrosphere > Surface Water > Lakes
  • Earth Science > Hydrosphere > Surface Water > Rivers/Streams
  • Earth Science > Oceans > Ocean Winds
  • Earth Science > Oceans > Sea Ice
  • Earth Science > Spectral/Engineering > Infrared Wavelengths
  • Earth Science > Spectral/Engineering > Microwave
  • Earth Science > Spectral/Engineering > Microwave > Brightness Temperature
  • Earth Science > Spectral/Engineering > Visible Wavelengths
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles > Electron Flux
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles > Particle Density
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles > Particle Speed
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles > Particle Temperature
  • Earth Science > Sun-earth Interactions > Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles > Proton Flux
  • DMSP
  • Global Change
  • Meteorological Satellites
  • Polar Orbiters
  • Satellite Meteorology
Data Center keywords
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers for Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC > National Geophysical Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Place keywords
  • Global
Project keywords
  • ICSU-WDS > International Council for Science - World Data System
Use Constraints
  • Use Constraints: None
Access Constraints
  • Access Constraints: US Air Force
  • Free download
Lineage information for: repository
Processing Steps
  • 2015-04-22T00:00:00 - NOAA created the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) by merging NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), and National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), including the National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC), per the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Public Law 113-235. NCEI launched publicly on April 22, 2015.
Lineage information for: Scope not available.
Processing Steps
  • 1992-03-01T00:00:00 - Mission Start Date
Acquisition Information (collection)
  • OLS (Operational Linescan System), is the primary sensor on each satellite. The OLS instrument consists of two telescopes and a photomultiplier tube (PMT). The detectors sweep back and forth in a "whiskbroom" fashion (a "flying spot design" is employed - a subset of whiskbroom scanners). The continuous analog signal is sampled at a constant rate so the Earth-located centers of each pixel are roughly equidistant, i.e., 0.5 km apart, 7,325 pixels are digitized in the cross-track direction.
  • SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwave Imager). The SSM/I is a seven-channel, four-frequency, linearly-polarized, passive microwave radiometer (a total-power instrument configuration) which measures atmospheric, ocean, and terrain microwave brightness temperatures (similar to NIMBUS-7 SMMR) which are converted into environmental parameters such as: sea surface winds, rain rates, cloud water, precipitation, soil moisture, ice edge, and ice age. SMM/I data is used to obtain synoptic maps of critical atmospheric, oceanographic and selected land parameters on a global scale. The footprint of SSM/I data is a 1400 km swath (conical scan).
  • SSM/T (Special Sensor Microwave Temperature Sounder). The SSM/T is a seven channel passive microwave sounder consisting of a rotating 7 step antenna reflector (rotating once every 32 seconds), a Dicke-switched seven channel radiometer, a digitizer, and signal processor. It measures the Earth's surface and atmospheric emission in the 50 to 60 GHz oxygen band. The SMM/T is a cross-track nadir scanning radiometer having a FOV of 14.4A?. At nominal altitude (833 km) the subtrack spatial resolution is an approximate circle of 174 km diameter at nadir elongating to an ellipse of 305 x 313 km at the extreme viewing angles toward the limb. There are seven total cross-track scan positions separated by 12A? with a maximum cross-track scan angle of 36A?. Swath width = 1500 km (data coverage gap between successive orbits). The SSM/T is a step and stare type sensor which dwells on each of the seven scene stations, then observes a cold (3 K) reference, followed by a warm (300 K) reference.
  • SSM/T2 (Special Sensor Microwave Water Vapor Profiler-2). The instrument is a cross-track scanning, five channel, passive total power microwave radiometer system which consists of a single, self-contained module with a step-scan motion in the cross-track direction of A? 40.5A?. The SSM/T2 scan mechanism is synchronized with the SSM/T so that the beam cell patterns of the two sensors coincide. The observation rate is 7.5 scans/minute. There are 28 observations (beam positions) per scan for each of the five channels, with each observation having a spatial resolution of about 48 km. All five channels have coincident centers. The swath width is about 1500 km.
  • SSJ/4 (Precipitation Electron/Proton Spectrometer) Objective: Measurement of transfer energy, mass, and momentum of charged particles through the magnetosphere-ionosphere in the Earth's magnetic field. The instrument looks toward the satellite zenith. - The SSJ/4 sensor consists of four electrostatic analyzers that record the flux of precipitating ions or electrons at 20 fixed energy channels between 30 eV and 30 keV. The curved plate detectors allow precipitating electrons and ions to enter through an aperture of about 20 x 10 (FWHM). Electrons and ions of the selected energy are deflected toward the target by an imposed electric field applied across the two plates. The two low energy detectors consist of 10 channels centered at 34, 49, 71, 101, 150, 218, 320, 460, 670, and 960 eV. The high energy detector measures particles in 10 channels centered at 1.0, 1.4, 2.1, 3.0, 4.4, 6.5, 9.5, 14.0, 20.5 and 29.5 KeV. Each detector integrates each channel for 0.09 s from high energy channel to low. A complete cycle is sampled each second. The primary sources of the particles precipitating into the upper atmosphere are the northern and southern auroral zones.
  • SSI/ES (Special Sensor Ionospheric Plasma Drift/Scintillation Monitor) Objective: Measurement of the ambient electron density and temperatures, the ambient ion density, and the average ion temperature and molecular weight at the DMSP orbital altitude. The instrument consists of an electron sensor (Langmuir probe) and an ion sensor mounted on a 2.5 meter boom. The ion sensor is a planar aperture, planar collector sensor oriented to face the spacecraft velocity vector at all times. In addition to the Langmuir probe and planar collector which make up the SSI/E, the SSI/ES has a plasma drift meter and a scintillation meter.
  • SSM (Special Sensor Magnetometer), a triaxial fluxgate magnetometer. The SSM measures geomagnetic fluctuations associated with solar geophysical phenomena (i.e., ionospheric currents flowing at high latitudes). In combination with the SSI/ES and the SSJ/4, the SSM provides heating and electron density profiles in the high-latitude ionosphere. SSM takes and reports 12 readings/s for the Y and Z axes. Only 10 readings of the 12 readings per second are reported for the X axis due to telemetry limitations. The SSM's axes are aligned with the spacecraft's axes where X is downward and aligned to local vertical within 0.01 degree, Y is parallel to the velocity vector for spacecraft with ascending node in the afternoon/evening sector, and Z is away from the solar panel and anti-parallel to the orbit normal vector.) The measurement range is A?65535 nT for each axis, with a one-bit resolution of 2 nT. Note: The magnetic field has three sources: 1) the magnetic field from the solid Earth, 2) the magnetic field from electrical currents flowing in the ionosphere and magnetosphere, and 3) the magnetic field from the spacecraft. Measurement of source 2 is the principal objective of the SSM, the measurement of source 1 is a secondary objective, and measurement of source 3 is a nuisance which is eliminated from the data as much as possible during data processing
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F12 (DMSP 5D-2/F12)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F13 (DMSP 5D-2/F13)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F14 (DMSP 5D-2/F14)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F15 (DMSP 5D-2/F15)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F16 (DMSP 5D-2/F16)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F17 (DMSP 5D-2/F17)
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F18 (DMSP 5D-2/F18)
Last Modified: 2015-09-18
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