Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hello Houston!

You may notice the satellite picture above does not look as sharp as usual and it breaks up in the far Eastern Atlantic. This is because a very important satellite used to track storms along the Eastern Seaboard ,as well as the Atlantic, has gone on the fritz.

We are not completely blind as a second satellite unit is taking over temporary duties, but its eyes are not as good nor do they extend that far into the Atlantic.

This is what happened:

Over the weekend, a satellite known as GOES-13 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) began to have problems relaying pictures back to earth. It got so bad with static that NOAA took the unit off line. As of this posting, engineers are working on the problem but have no idea as to when it would be put back into service.

This issue has forced NOAA to use another satellite by the name of GOES 15, which usually only covers the West Coast. They opened the lens as far as it could to capture not only its area of coverage, but also as much of the East Coast and Atlantic as possible. As you can probably imagine the detail is somewhat lost with such a big sector to cover.

This unit is not an old one as it went into space in 2006. What is interesting is that it was never used but placed in reserve until 2010, that's when it was placed into operation. Whatever the fix, it will have to be performed by computer programmers because if its an actual hardware or mechanical issue, a repair mission is not even a consideration.

We may not be completely out of luck, it seems as in the case of this unit, another satellite by the name of GOES 14 is sitting idly by waiting to take over operations if 13 dies.

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