May 23, 2013

NOAA’s GOES-13 Fails for the Second Time in Two Years

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One of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) main weather satellite, GOES-13, experienced problems with its imaging equipment on late Tuesday, May 21.

The satellite, one of the most important for meteorologists forecasting weather formations on the eastern part of the United States and the tropical Atlantic Ocean, was temporarily backed by the GOES-15, which covers western U.S. GOES-15 was able to take full-disc images of the Earth but the result was not optimal; the images came back distorted, which would be a significant concern for forecasters and the public going into the Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA engineers are working on repairing the GOES-13 imager via software updates, but were unsuccessful as of Wednesday midday. The administration is also working on activating the GOES-14 to help cover the eastern part of the country like they did in September 2012 when GOES-13 experienced a similar problem. Officials expect GOES-14 to be available early on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

If NOAA fails to repair GOES-13, there is an important concern on what could happen if GOES-14 were to fail. The options would be very limited, possibly extending to foreign satellite coverage.

Satellite today