NASA’s Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is one of five instruments currently in use by the National Polar- Orbiting Operational Environment Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project. FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology was commissioned by NASA to design and develop two cryogenic load cells to operate aboard the satellite.

In this VIIRS blackout RGB composite on November 3, 2012, yellow regions indicate urban regions with power (lights) before Hurricane Sandy, but not after. Blue regions are the result of clouds. Notice significantly less yellow in Manhattan and inland regions of Long Island and portions of New Jersey. (NASASPoRT)
The VIIRS instrument is responsible for new advances in weather and environmental monitoring, which included producing the aerial images of Hurricane Sandy as it approached the United States’ eastern coastline.

To ensure that the satellite operates effectively while in orbit, FUTEK developed the two load cells to monitor the force applied to the cryo-radiator. Special engineering and manufacturing went into the construction of the specific sensors, as they operate at extreme temperatures of -300 °F.

With the ability to view highly defined images of clouds, vegetation, and sea surfaces, VIIRS has become an effective tool in monitoring potentially detrimental weather circumstances. The technology allows NASA and meteorologists to warn communities about approaching hurricanes, tsunamis, and storms.

Cryogenic load cells
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