July 8 - NOAA announced today that
one of NOAA's weather satellites, GOES-9, is failing as it reaches
the end of its planned life, but the GOES weather satellite data
and imagery seen daily on TV weather forecasts will continue
to flow without a break. The smooth transition is due to a decision
to store a backup weather satellite on orbit to quickly replace
a failing one.
the nation's newest geostationary weather satellite, which was
put into a storage orbit and completed operational testing in
June, was activated July 9 in its present position over the central
United States (105 degrees West). GOES-10 will replace GOES-9,
which is showing signs of near-term failure of its attitude control
"Both momentum wheels on GOES-9 have exhibited problems,"
said Kathleen Kelly,
director of NOAA's Satellite Operations Control Center. "Momentum
Wheel 2 failed and was turned off in June and now the other is
experiencing extremely high current levels. We need at least
one wheel in operation to maintain pointing accuracy. Though
we expect it to fail at any time, we are doing our best to keep
GOES-9 transmitting until GOES-10 becomes fully operational within
the next week."
Once activation begins, GOES-10
will provide useful data within 72 hours. The satellite will
be repositioned pending consultation with the National Weather
Service. GOES satellite images are best known to television viewers
as the cloud images and movies that are broadcast on TV weather
"Having a GOES satellite stored on orbit ready to back up
the other two GOES satellites turned out to be an excellent idea,"
said Gerald Dittberner, NOAA's GOES program manager. "It's
the first time we had ever had a backup satellite in place. Without
such a satellite, we would have had to wait as much as 12 to
15 months to get a launch time slot. Now we can have GOES-10
transmitting data within 72 hours after activation, meeting our
program needs without any loss in data continuity."
Both GOES-8 and GOES-9 were the first in a new series of satellites
and had projected
planned lifetimes of three years. GOES-8, launched four years
and two months ago,
continues to function with no significant changes in the past
18 months. GOES-9, launched in May 95, had reached its projected
planned life. The planned mission life for GOES-10 is five years.
The next satellite in the series, GOES-L, is scheduled for launch
in May 1999 and will be stored on orbit.
NOAA's new GOES series has produced an excellent set of real-time
weather data for weather forecasters and researchers. Combined
with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing
systems, these satellite data have proved to be crucial in improving
weather forecasts and numerical models. Better warnings of thunderstorms,
winter storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather
help to save lives, preserve property, and benefit commercial
Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
funds and operates the GOES series of satellites at the Satellite
Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md. NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development,
and launch of the GOES spacecraft for NOAA.
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For more information contact Jeanne
Kouhestani at (202) 482-6090 or Kathleen
Kelly at (301) 457-5130.
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