VIIRS Overview

The NSIDC DAAC VIIRS data collection includes snow cover, sea ice cover, and sea ice temperature data collected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor. The VIIRS instrument, a scanning radiometer, acquires visible and infrared imagery and radiometric measurements of Earth’s landmasses and oceans. Data coverage from VIIRS began in 2012 and runs to the present day. 

VIIRS first flew on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) spacecraft which launched on October 28, 2011. SNPP was established as a joint mission by NASA and NOAA designed to bridge NASA’s Earth Observing System satellite missions and the latest-generation NASA-NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) missions. The first JPSS mission, JPSS-1, launched on November 18, 2017. JPSS-2, is scheduled to launch in 2022.

The NSIDC DAAC is NASA’s designated Distributed Active Archive Center for VIIRS snow and ice data from SNPP, JPSS-1, and JPSS-2 missions. 

VIIRS extends observational records collected by earlier instruments, such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) mission. VIIRS snow cover and sea ice algorithms are specifically designed for compatibility with MODIS Terra and Aqua snow cover and sea ice data sets (Version 6 and higher). This compatibility ensures continuity between MODIS and VIIRS data products. The continuity supports comparison of snow and sea ice conditions over the lives of MODIS and VIIRS sensors, and facilitates future climate data records from these sensors.

VIIRS also offers observational advantages over earlier sensors. For example, it has a 3,000-kilometer-wide swath, giving it a wider swath than MODIS. And, VIIRS observes the entire surface of the Earth twice each day at 750-kilometer resolution compared to MODIS sensors which have worked in tandem from two satellites, providing global coverage every one to two days. 

The NSIDC DAAC archives and distributes Level-2 and Level-3 VIIRS products, and product resolutions range from 750 to 375 meters.

Parameters

Snow cover, sea ice, ice surface temperature

Geographic coverage

Global

Related collection(s)

MODIS

VIIRS