NOAA 2005-071
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Satellite Will Detect Hurricanes, Severe Weather and Solar Disturbances

NOAA officials today announced details of a new geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES) that will launch next week. The satellite, named GOES-N, procured in cooperation with NASA, will lift off Thursday, June 23, at 6:13 p.m. (EST) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“With lives and property always in jeopardy during severe weather events, having GOES-N available to step in means NOAA will always be prepared to issue timely forecasts and warnings,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

NOAA’s two operational GOES spacecraft – GOES-12 hovering above the equator in the east, and GOES-10, above the equator in the west – provide continuous environmental observations of North, Central, and South America and surrounding oceans. The satellites supply data critical for fast, accurate weather forecasts and warnings, detecting solar storm activity, relaying distress signals from emergency beacons, monitoring the oceans and scanning the landscape for the latest drought and flood conditions. When GOES-N reaches orbit, it will be renamed GOES-13, and put in a storage mode as a backup to GOES-10 and GOES-12 until it is called into service.

“GOES-N, like the rest of NOAA’s satellites, will help us take the pulse of the world’s changing environment and strengthen the Global Earth Observation System of Systems,” Lautenbacher added. GEOSS is an agreement signed by 60 nations and the European Commission that commits to linking existing environmental-monitoring technology into one system, which can better predict weather and climate, and prepare for natural hazards.

“After such an active, deadly 2004 hurricane season, and with the same forecast again for 2005, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center welcome this insurance that real-time GOES data and images will remain accessible when – and where – we need it,” said Max Mayfield, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. “It’s not only helpful for forecasters, but for people in harm’s way of these approaching storms.”

GOES-N, the first spacecraft in the new GOES-N/O/P series, will feature a highly stable pointing platform, which will improve the performance of the imager and sounder instruments. GOES-N will also have expanded measurements for the space and solar environment monitoring instruments, a new dedicated broadcast capability to be used by the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network, and a new digital weather facsimile capability for higher quality transmissions of data and products.

“The solar x-ray imager is to space weather forecasting, what satellite imagery is to hurricane forecasting,” said Ernie Hildner, director of NOAA’s Space Environment Center, in Boulder, Colo. “It is helping to improve forecasts and warnings for solar disturbances, protecting billions of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground, and lessening the brunt of power surges for the satellite-based electronics and communications industry.”

For NOAA’s National Ocean Service, data from GOES-N will be valuable for its scientists. “The same GOES data that drives weather forecasts go into oceanographic circulation models and ecological forecasts for U.S. coastal communities,” said Margaret Davidson, director of the NOS’ Coastal Services Center.

Because its power system will collect and store more power from the sun, GOES-N will not be hampered by outages, which result in “blind spots” in the data. It will also offer NOAA’s National Weather Service forecasters more yearly data by providing almost an additional 1,384 frames – or pictures – from the imager, and 512 frames – or sounding areas – from the sounder. In the past, GOES, which gets its electrical energy from the sun, was affected by the long spring and fall eclipse seasons, which lessened solar radiation. Now, upgraded solar array and battery technologies have fixed the problem.

“We are very proud to have been responsible for bringing GOES-N, with its improved performance, into our constellation of environmental satellites that serve the nation,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development and launch of NOAA satellites. Boeing, acting as lead contractor, built GOES-N. The GOES-N imager and sounder were built and tested at ITT in Fort Wayne, Ind. Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics developed the Solar X-Ray Imager. GOES-N will be launched on a Boeing Delta IV expendable vehicle.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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 resources.

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GOES Program (from NASA):