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Contact: Barbara McGehan
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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded the Gold Medal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) solar imaging (SXI) Team. The SXI Team will be honored on Friday, Oct. 24, at a ceremony in College Park, Md. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The SXI is the first operational solar imager ever flown in space. It flies aboard the NOAA geostationary weather satellite, GOES-12, and sends images of the sun, once each minute, to NOAA’s Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo. The images are also available on the web to the general public. SXI greatly advances NOAA’s space weather forecasting and research capabilities and expands the ability of the NOAA GOES satellites to monitor not only Earth’s environment, but also the Sun and space weather disturbances caused by violent solar activity.

The Secretary of Commerce grants the Gold Medal - the department’s highest award - to employees who have made contributions of exceptional value in support of overall departmental goals that serve the nation.

Steven Hill, SXI project leader said, “Not only is SXI a technologically complex instrument that returns amazingly beautiful, dynamic and useful images of the Sun, but it is an outcome of a managerially and technologically complex program that is a major success.”

The products derived from the SXI will be used to provide government and commercial enterprises in the U.S. and throughout the world with advanced notice of conditions which have adverse effects on astronaut activities, satellite operations, communications systems, electric power grids, airlines, and other technologically advanced equipment.

SXI is the result of a 20 year partnership effort between the US Air Force, which funded the first instrument, NASA, whose Marshall Space Flight Center built it, and several parts of NOAA, which put it on the GOES satellite, use the data and make it available to the public.

Ernest Hildner, director of the NOAA Space Environment Center said, “The success of SXI is a wonderful chapter in the excellent, important, and continuing NOAA-USAF partnership to provide the Nation’s space weather services and data.”

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resource.

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