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Suomi in the sky

February 4, 2012
By Zach Kukkonen ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - As the Suomi NPP satellite circles the Earth gathering revolutionary meteorological data, Houghton resident Lois Young can look up to the sky and remember all the work her father has done.

"How many people do you know who have a weather satellite named after them?" Young said. "It was a huge honor."

Young is the daughter of Verner Suomi, a famed meteorologist who just last month had a weather satellite named after him. According to a NASA press release, Suomi pioneered remote sensing of Earth and is best known for the "spin-scan" camera, which enabled geostationary weather satellites to continuously image Earth, giving the meteorological pictures common in television broadcasts.

"He got the idea when watching one of the first football games to use instant replay," Young said. "My brother Steve was sitting next to him during the game, and he reports seeing the light bulb going on in his head as he realized what such technology could do for forecasting the weather."

Suomi, who died in 1995, was a long-time professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned numerous awards throughout his long career. The satellite which now bears his name will continue his life's work, as the joint mission of NASA and NOAA will add to long-term climate records, monitor the ozone layer, measure global ice cover, map vegetation and contribute to better weather forecasts, according to a release put out by UW-Madison. It also will take photos using the "Blue Marble," which takes high-resolution images.

"It's 8,000 by 8,000 pixels and is much more high-defined," Young said. "It's a pretty stunning image."

So now whenever Young looks up to the sky or watches the weather on TV, she can imagine the Suomi NPP satellite and reflect on the impact her father has made.

"He is widely known as the father of satellite meteorology," Young said. "It was interesting growing up with him around as he was always working on something."



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