NOAA 2004-044
Contact: John Leslie

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Satellite Tracked Memorable Storms, Aided Forecasters

It tracked some of the most memorable tropical cyclones on record – from the famous parade of storms in 1995, when five tropical cyclones were active in the Atlantic at the same time – including the deadly Hurricane Mitch, which devastated parts of Central America in 1998. On May 5, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will officially deactivate the eighth satellite in Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series.

NOAA will boost GOES-8 into an orbit 350 kilometers above its original geostationary position, where it will be deactivated and disposed of safely in three controlled burns. Launched on April 13, 1994, GOES-8 had been in operation until 2003, when it was put into an orbital storage mode and replaced by GOES-12. GOES-8 was positioned to give clear views of the eastern and central United States, the Atlantic Ocean, Carribean and Gulf of Mexico, where dangerous tropical cyclones emerge.

“GOES-8 has served America well as our eye above the storm,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “During the 10 years GOES-8 was operational, our tropical and severe weather forecasts improved. That was key to saving lives in the face of potentially deadly conditions.”

The first satellite in the next series of GOES spacecraft (GOES-N, -O, -P) is set for launch in December 2004, and will possess more capabilities. For example, the satellites will use star trackers, instead of Earth sensors, for altitude control, resulting in more accurate images.

“With the help of our partners, NOAA is creating better satellites that will provide better data to improve our understanding -- and prediction -- of climate and weather,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service.

According to retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), GOES spacecraft are critical components in the highly integrated weather, water and climate observation system.

“GOES-8 has provided volumes of data to validate and enhance ground, ocean and atmospheric-based climate, weather and water information – data critical to supporting our primary mission of saving lives and protecting property,” Johnson said.

He added: “GOES-8’s successors will provide the NWS with even more valuable data to improve not only the accuracy of our forecasts, but also our ability to provide holistic analysis of our Earth’s environment.”

An even more advanced version of GOES, the GOES-R series, will be the focus of a week-long conference in Broomfield, Colo., May 10 -13. The first launch is planned for 2012, and will scan the Earth nearly five times faster than the current GOES system, and provide about 50 times the amount of data currently available.

The NOAA Satellites and Information Service is the nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. It operates America’s environmental satellites, which are used for weather and ocean observation, forecasting and climate monitoring.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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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