UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!



Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) (U)

Overview (U):

(U) The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) is the DoD's most important source of global weather data. It provides visible and infrared cloud cover imagery (1/3 nm constant resolution) and other meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical information. The DMSP is a fully operational joint-service program supporting all military services.

(U) The mission of DMSP is to provide global visual, infrared, microwave, and other secondary sensor data to military and civilian users. This data is used to produce real-time meteorological information and forecast products. The DMSP satellites see such environmental features as moisture laden clouds, bodies of water, snow, fire, and pollution in the visual and infrared spectra. Scanning radiometers record information that can help determining cloud type and altitude, land and surface water temperatures, and ocean surface features DMSP data is also used to determine, rain rates, sea surface winds, ice features, and land surface trafficability. After transmission to ground-based terminals, the data is processed, interpreted by meteorologists, and ultimately used in planning and conducting U.S. military operations worldwide.

(U) The Dept. of Commerce's (DoC) National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) System. Under direction of the National Performance Review (NPR) and the Presidential Decision Directive-2 (May 1994), the missions of DMSP and POES will be combined and replaced by DoC's program, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS).

Description (U):

(U) DMSP is composed of three segments each in various phases of development, production, operation, and support.

(U) Space Segment. This segment acquires environmental data through the satellite's sensors. The space segment nominally consists of two, three-axis stabilized satellites in circular, earth-centered, sun-synchronous, near polar orbits at a nominal altitude of 450 nautical miles above the earth. These satellites have orbital periods of approximately 101 minutes. The 1600 nautical mile swath-width of the Operational Linescan System (OLS), DMSP's primary sensor, enables the satellites to provide contiguous coverage at the equator and allows each satellite to cover the earth completely every twelve hours. The collected data is stored onboard the satellite for delayed transmission to the C3 Segment. Subsequently, the data is relayed to strategic/central elements of the User Segment for processing, analysis, and further distribution. Real-time data is broadcast directly from the spacecraft and received by tactical/theater elements for all Services.

(U) C3 Segment. This segment provides dedicated communication links and facilities required to maintain the DMSP satellites' state of health and recover their payload data. Presidential Decision Directive/National Science and Technology Center (NSTC)-2, 5 May 1994, directed the Department of Commerce (DoC) and the DoD to combine their separate polar-orbiting environmental satellite programs (DMSP and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES)) into a single integrated program. The Department of Commerce, NOAA/NESDIS/OSO (Office of Satellite Operations) has assumed primary command and control responsibility for DMSP from its Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC), Suitland, MD. SOCC achieved initial operations capability (IOC) 29 May 98 when HQ AFSOC/DO officially transferred Satellite Control Authority (SCA) from AFSPC to NPOESS. The DMSP System Program Office, Los Angeles AFB, CA, has responsibility for sustaining engineering, configuration management, anomaly resolution, and launch and early orbit checkout for the DMSP satellites. The Air Force will maintain a backup command and control center at Schriever AFB, SOC81, with IOC in 4QFY98. Components of the AFSCN are also used to control DMSP satellites and receive and relay its data and telemetry information. The previous DMSP C2 sites ar Offutt AFB, NE (MPSOC) and Fairchild AFB, WA (FSOC) were closed 4QFY98 and 3QFY97, respectively. With the closure of FSOC in April 1997 and SOC81 not scheduled for IOC until September 1998, there is no DMSP backup C2 site. As an interim backup, software was installed on existing hardware at the DMSP Payload Integration and Test Facility (PITF), Vandenberg AFB, CA. This gives DMSP an austere backup, able to command one satellite at a time.

(U) User Segment. This segment provides the capability to receive, process, and disseminate DMSP environmental data. It consists of strategic/central and tactical/theater elements. Their products are used for applications ranging from tropical cyclone forecasting to electro-optical targeting and navigation/communication system forecasting. Strategic/Central elements are located at Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) at Offutt AFB, NE; 55 Space Weather Squadron (55 SWX) at Schriever AFB, CO; and Fleet Numerical Meteorological Oceanography Center (FNMOC) at Monterey, CA. Tactical Terminals are located worldwide and include, Mark IV Series Transportable Terminals, AN/SMQ-11 Shipboard Receiving Terminals, and Small Tactical Terminals (STT). The Tactical Terminals receive DMSP mission data in realtime.

(U) The strategic centers complement each other by providing expertise in different areas, as well as, providing some overlap for redundancy. AFWA, the cloud forecase and global modelling center of excellence, is the primary strategic user and distributor of DMSP satellite data destined for the Air Force and Army. FNMOC is the center of excellence for microwave imagery and distributes DMSP data to the Navy and Marine Corps. The 55 SWX is t5he space environment center of excellence. Although neither AFWA, FNMOC, nor 55 SWX are DMSP agencies, all receive and process DMSP data in combination with meteorological, solar-geophysical, and oceanographic observations from other sources. They disseminate such environmental information in various forms to the DoD and other Governmental agencies. A shared processing network distributes data and products between AFWA, FNMOC, 55 SWX and other users including NOAA and international users. Through NOAA, the information is relayed to the National Weather Service (NWS).

(U) Worldwide tactical/theater elements are owned by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Studies are in progress to evaluate organic maintenance of the tactical/theater terminal and other user segment software using SSSG Detachment 3.

User Impact (U):

(U) Since the mid-1960s, when the Department of Defense (DoD) initiated the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), low-earth-orbiting satellites have provided the military with important environmental information.

(U) The data from DMSP satellites is used for planning and scheduling of military operations around the world and protection of military and civilian assets.

Programmatics (U):

(U) Operational.

(U) Organizations and Funding:
  • (U) Air Force.

Images (U):

Added Value to the WarfighterAFSPC Vision
DMSPDefense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Initiatives (U):
Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)
AN/SMQ-11AN/SMQ-11 Shipboard Receiving Terminal
FLTSATCOMFleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM)
Mark IVMark IV
Mark IV-BMark IV-B
NEMSSNational Environmental Monitoring Satellite System (NEMSS)
NPOESSNational Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)
STTSmall Tactical Terminal
Titan IITitan II
Western RangeWestern Range
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
EnvironmentalDOD Space Environmental Programs
Satellite OperationsSatellite Operations
Space SystemsSpace Systems
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

Major DoD Space ProgramsEvolution of the Selected Space Programs
National Security Space Road MapIntegrated System Road Map
This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

1998 Strategic Master Plan
DMSP Homepage
DMSP Program Office Homepage
Sattelite Control ORD (95)
This Table Is Unclassified.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.

(U) DoD: OASD(C3I), Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Service Staff: SAF/AQS, Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Major Command: HQ AFSPC/DR, Peterson AFB, CO
(U) Program Management: SMC/DMSP Program Office, Los Angeles AFB, CA
(U) Satellite Control Authority: NPOESS Integrated Program Office, Silver Spring, MD
(U) Satellite Operations: NOAA/NESDIS/OSO, Suitland, MD

Point of Contact (U):

(U) Capt Jim Rodriguez, SMC, Open Phone: DSN 833-6402.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 27 July 1998

(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list