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DMSP 5D-2/F11



DMSP 5D-2/F11 is one of a series of meteorological satellites developed and operated by the Air Force under the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). This program, previously known as DAPP (Data Acquisition and Processing Program), was classified until March 1973. The objective of this program is to provide global visual and infrared cloudcover data and specialized environmental data to support Department of Defense operational weather analysis and forecasting requirements. Operationally, the program consists of two satellites in sun-synchronous polar orbits, with the ascending node of one satellite in early morning and the other at local noon. The 6.4-m-long spacecraft is separated into four sections: (1) a precision mounting platform for sensors and equipment requiring precise alignment; (2) an equipment support module containing the electronics, reaction wheels, and some meteorological sensors; (3) a reaction control equipment support structure containing the third-stage rocket motor and supporting the ascent phase reaction control equipment; and (4) a 9.29-sq-m solar cell panel. The spacecraft stabilization is controlled by a combination flywheel and magnetic control coil system so that sensors are maintained in the desired earth-looking mode. One feature is the precision-pointing accuracy of the primary imager to 0.01 deg provided by a star sensor and an updated ephemeris navigation system. This allows automatic geographical mapping of the digital imagery to the nearest picture element. The operational linescan system is the primary data acquisition system that provides real-time or stored, multi-orbit, day-and-night, visual and infrared imagery of clouds. A supplementary sensor package contains five special sensors: (1) a microwave temperature sounder, (2) an X-ray spectrometer, (3) an ionospheric/scintillation monitor, (4) a precipitating electron/ion spectrometer, and (5) a microwave imager. Either recorded or real-time data are transmitted to ground-receiving sites by two redundant S-band transmitters. Recorded data are read out to tracking sites located at Fairchild AFB, Washington, and at Loring AFB, Maine, and relayed by SATCOM to Air Force Global Weather Central, Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Real-time data are read out at mobile tactical sites located around the world. Additional information concerning this satellite can be found in the report by D. A. Nichols, "The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program," Optical Engineering, v. 14, n. 4, p. 273, July-August 1975.

Alternate Names

  • 21798
  • DMSP-F11
  • DMSP5D-2-F11
  • USA 73
  • dmspf11

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1991-11-28
Launch Vehicle: Atlas E
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 470 kg

Funding Agency

  • Department of Defense-Department of the Air Force (United States)


  • Space Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Col J. RiversProgram ManagerUS Air Force Space Division

Other Sources of DMSP Data/Information

SSIES ion data (U. Texas - Dallas)
DMSP data (National Geophysical Data Center)
SSMI sea ice data (National Snow and Ice Data Center)
DMSP F11 summary (NASA MSFC)

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