NOAA: GOES-14 heading back to storage

December 20, 2012

GOES Satellite

The NOAA geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES) that was activated as a backup when GOES-13 experienced technical problems in late September, is headed back to orbital storage mode, NOAA officials said.

On December 18, NOAA engineers began start shifting GOES-14 from its current position of 89.5°W. The satellite will arrive February 6 at its storage position of 105°W.

During the last week of September, GOES-13's sounder and imager instruments, which are critical for accurate weather forecasts, experienced trouble and were turned off, while engineers investigated the cause of the problem. After nearly three weeks, they determined the root cause was vibration in the sounder wheel, which also impacted the imager.

"We're confident we found the source of trouble for both instruments," and Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. "NOAA has also implemented new monitoring guidelines in case GOES-13 experiences the same type of problems in the future."

She added that the maneuver to send GOES-14 back into storage would minimize risks to its lifespan, ensuring the spacecraft’s availability well into the era of the next-generation of geostationary satellites, called GOES-R.

At all times, NOAA operates two GOES spacecraft 22,300 miles above the Equator – GOES-13 monitors the East, while GOES-15 monitors the West Coast. NOAA always keeps an additional GOES in orbital storage mode ready to step in if one of the active satellites experiences trouble. NOAA also operates the polar-operational environmental satellite (POES) program – satellites that fly 540 miles above Earth's surface, circling near the North and South poles.

"As we've seen again throughout 2012, severe weather is always a threat in the United States, which means NOAA’s satellites, including the back-ups, must be ready so the flow of data and imagery can continue without interruption," Kicza said.