NOAA 2002-056
Contact: Patricia Viets
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The United States has agreed to lend Japan a geostationary environmental satellite to ensure weather data from the Western Pacific are available continuously should a weakening Japanese satellite fail, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today. The loan of this satellite sets the stage for long-term mutual backup arrangements between the United States and Japan.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-9, will ensure continuous geostationary meteorological coverage in the Western Pacific, including U.S. territories, U.S. military facilities, and U.S. military and commercial vessels in the region.

"This is especially important for severe weather prediction and typhoon forecasting," said Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (ret.), Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and NOAA Administrator. "Without this backup agreement, the Japanese people and U.S. territories and assets in the Pacific could be at risk due to severe weather."

GOES-9 will be readied to back up the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite-5 (GMS-5), operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency. GMS-5, launched in 1995, is past its useful life and is encountering imaging problems and fuel shortages. GOES-9, also launched in 1995 and currently in storage mode, does not meet U.S. weather forecasting requirements, but does have sounding and limited imaging capabilities which will supply data comparable to that of the GMS-5 .

Japan's Multifunctional Transportation Satellite (MTSAT)-1 was planned as a replacement for GMS-5, but experienced a launch failure in 1999. The replacement follow-on, MTSAT-1R, is currently planned for launch in the summer of 2003.

In addition to continuous weather coverage from the Western Pacific, the United States will receive additional benefits from this agreement. NOAA's Command and Data Acquisition Station in Fairbanks, Alaska, will be upgraded to allow the United States to control a GOES Satellite over the Western Pacific. This would be needed if weather or another disaster were to disable the prime GOES station at Wallops, Virginia.

The Japan Meteorological Agency will pay for all upgrades and operations costs. The agreement also lays the groundwork for a separate long-term mutual backup agreement, which would enable the United States to call on Japan if the United States had problems with one of its geostationary satellites.

Today's agreement is an important step toward ensuring global coverage for environmental observations through exemplary international cooperation.

NOAA's satellites are operated by the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA Satellite and Data Service), the nation's primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. NOAA Satellite and Data Service operates the nation's environmental satellites, which are used for weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and other environmental applications such as fire detection, ozone monitoring, and sea surface temperature measurements.

NOAA Satellite and Data Service also operates three data centers, which house global data bases in climatology, oceanography, solid earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics, and paleoclimatology. To learn more, please visit