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NOAA News Releases 2004
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Next week in Miami, NOAA’s satellite experts will help prepare direct readout users of its satellite data – from weather and climate forecasters to emergency managers – on upgrades that will be needed for their existing receiving systems. The new requirements will take effect when the agency implements new technological capabilities for its future spacecraft. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will host the 2004 Satellite Direct Readout Conference: A Decade In Transition, Monday, December 6, through Friday, December 10, at the Hilton Miami Airport Hotel. NOAA is an agency of U.S. Department of Commerce.

At the conference, NOAA experts will focus on transitioning the data-receiving technology of users of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites. Experts and users will also discuss the importance of developing the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. Representatives from more than 20 countries in the hemisphere, and international organizations, including the World Meteorological Organization, have been invited.

“Data from NOAA satellites are key to unraveling some of the mysteries about weather and our changing environment in the United States and around the globe,” said Brig. Gen. John J. Kelly, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), deputy under secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “We have to help prepare the user communities to receive these improved data without missing a beat. Strengthening ties in this hemisphere will increase our ability to effectively implement GEOSS.”

NOAA satellite data are available to direct readout users throughout the world, and support a wide range of meteorological, oceanographic, terrestrial and solar activities. NOAA satellites also provide coverage as part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called COSPAS-SARSAT. The system uses satellites to detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft and boats, and from personal locator beacons.

Users will have to modify, or replace, current receiving equipment and basic processing software as the next generation of NOAA satellites is launched.

“After such an active and deadly hurricane season, where NOAA satellites proved crucial to forecasters and emergency managers on the ground, there is a great need for data users to have their systems ready for the newer spacecraft,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Services.

Withee added that the conference would allow NOAA, and co-sponsor NASA, a chance to listen to the needs of the user community “to make the transitions as smooth as possible.”

NOAA’s Satellite and Information Services is the nation’s primary source of space-based oceanographic, meteorological, and climatic data. It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for ocean and weather observation and forecasting, climate monitoring, and other environmental applications. Some of the oceanographic applications include sea-surface temperature for hurricane and weather forecasting and sea-surface heights for El Niño prediction.

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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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EDITORS’ NOTE: (Gen. Kelly will speak on the impact of satellites on the GEOSS at the conference on Friday, December 10, at 8:45 a.m., and hold a briefing with reporters at 10 a.m.)