NOAA moves GOES-14 farther East as possible replacement for GOES-13

October 1, 2012

GOES Satellite

Engineers began moving NOAA's GOES-14 weather satellite farther east, to possibly replace the GOES-13 spacecraft. During the last week of September, the spacecraft, experienced technical problems with two key instruments critical for weather forecasting.

When the sounder and imager instruments on GOES-13, which had been NOAA's geostationary operational environmental satellite over the U.S. East Coast, were turned off September 23, the agency immediately configured GOES-15, the West Coast satellite, to provide additional coverage of the eastern United States and part of the Atlantic Ocean. Within a few hours, NOAA then activated its on-orbit spare satellite, GOES-14, for full service. Also, NOAA used data from the METEOSAT-9 satellite of its European partner, EUMETSAT.

NOAA has an organized back-up system in place, including strategic partnerships with international space agencies, to handle technical glitches that arise with any of its satellites.

At all times, NOAA operates two GOES spacecraft 22,300 miles above the Equator, with one 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, flying 540 miles above Earth's surface, circling the North and South poles.

Daily GOES East 1745Z Full Disk Image

Daily GOES East 1745Z Full Disk Image [Click image to enlarge]

"With severe weather always a threat, NOAA has back-up resources and contingency plans already established, so the flow of satellite data and imagery can continue without interruption," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. "Weather satellites are vital for the safety of all Americans, so we have to plan for the unexpected."

While engineers continue to find the cause of GOES-13's trouble, it will be sent to registered spare position in orbit. Meanwhile, it will take approximately 33 days to shift GOES-14 from its current position to the GOES-East location.

Watch A Visualization: NOAA Changes GOES Satellite Positions in Space