DMSP Spacecraft

  The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has provided the US Department of Defense with data for use in weather forecasting since first DMSP spacecraft was launched in January 1965. The primary sensor for this mission is the Operational Linescan System (OLS) which images the Earth in white light and infrared with a resolution of 2.8 km. In addition later spacecraft began to include particle and fields detectors which provide data about the space environment. The spacecraft are in near-polar and circular orbits at an altitude of 835 to 850 km. The orbital inclination of these spacecraft are 96 degrees which results in a precession rate of the orbital plane of one rotation per year. This results in keeping the spacecraft's orbit roughly fixed in local time throughout the year. In general there are at least two operational DMSP spacecraft at any given time, one in a dawn-dusk orientation and the other in an early evening-early morning orientation.

  The space environment sensors which have flown on DMSP include the SSIES package (thermal plasma instruments including a Retarding Potential Analyzer (RPA), Ion Drift Meter (IDM), Langmuir probe, and a scintillation meter) built here at the Center for Space Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. Other sensors include the SSJ4 (precipitating ions and electrons monitor (30 eV - 30 KeV), built by USAF Research Lab, Space Vehicles Directorate), SSJSTAR (penetrating particles monitor ( > 1 MeV), built by USAF Research Lab, Space Vehicles Directorate), SSM (vector fluxgate magnetometer, built by USAF Research Lab, Space Vehicles Directorate and Goddard Spaceflight Center), SSULI (limb scanning ultraviolet imager / spectrometer, built by the Naval Research Laboratory), SSUSI (nadir scanning ultraviolet imager /spectrometer and photometer, built by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University).

  The Special Sensor-Ions, Electrons, and Scintillation (SSIES) package has flown on every DMSP spacecraft since DMSP-F8 (launched June 1987). F8 through F11 flew the first version, SSIES-1, while an upgraded version, SSIES-2, flew on F11 through F15. The final version, SSIES-3 will fly on the remaining DMSP spacecraft starting with the upcoming launch of F16.We list all the data about each DMSP from F8 onward.


Spacecraft: F8
Operational lifetime: June 1987 - July 1994
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-1, SSJ4
Local time of nodes: 0600 / 1800


Spacecraft: F9
Operational lifetime: Feburary 1988 - March 1992
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-1, SSJ4
Local time of nodes: 0932 / 2132


Spacecraft: F10
Operational lifetime: December 1990 - September 1994
Extended lifetime: October 1994 - November 1997
Instruments: SSIES-1, SSJ4
Local time of nodes: 1944 / 0744 (in 1991) precessed to 2218 / 1018 (in 1997)


Spacecraft: F11
Operational lifetime: December 1991 - April 1994
Extended lifetime: December 1997 - June 1999; January 2000 - May 2000
Instruments: SSIES-2, SSJ4
Local time of nodes: 1659 / 0459 (in 1992) precessed to 1919 / 0719 (by 1998)


Spacecraft: F12
Operational lifetime: September 1993 - July 2002
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-2, SSJ4, SSM
Local time of nodes: 2030 / 0830


Spacecraft: F13
Operational lifetime: March 1994 - present
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-2, SSJ4, SSM
Local time of nodes: 1711/ 0511


Spacecraft: F14
Operational lifetime: April 1997 - present
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-2, SSJ4, SSM
Local time of nodes: 2035/ 0835


Spacecraft: F15
Operational lifetime: December 1999 - present
Extended lifetime: none
Instruments: SSIES-2, SSJ4, SSM
Local time of nodes: 2110/ 0910


Spacecraft: F16
Operational lifetime: late 2003 (?)
Extended lifetime:
Instruments: SSIES-13, SSJ5, SSM, SSULI, SSUSI
Local time of nodes:


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