NOAA's GOES-13 returns to full operations, GOES-14 to remain orbital spare

October 17, 2012

GOES Satellite

The GOES-13 spacecraft, which had its sounder and imager instruments taken out of service because of technical trouble in late September, will return to full operations on Thursday as NOAA's GOES East satellite, NOAA officials said today.

The trouble stemmed from a motor vibration, which caused a lubricant buildup that obstructed the spinning motion of the filter wheel in the sounder. A team of engineers from NOAA, Boeing and ITT suppressed the vibration, the filter wheel restarted and is running smoothly, with improved performance.

NOAA turned off the two instruments on September 23, and 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 activated its on-orbit spare satellite, GOES-14, for full service.

And as a team of engineers from NOAA, Boeing and ITT continued to pinpoint the cause of the problem, NOAA began moving GOES-14 towards the position where GOES-13 was situated. GOES-14 will return to its earlier status as the on-orbit spare, NOAA officials said.

GOES-13 had been NOAA's geostationary satellite, providing coverage of the U.S. East Coast, since April 14, 2010.

The engineers have worked hard to understand and correct the problem, and now data from both the imager and sounder will flow shortly to our key user, NOAA's National Weather Service," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of NOAA's Satellite and Information Service.

Daily GOES East 1745Z Full Disk Image

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

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 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, which fly 540 miles above Earth's surface, circling near the North and South Poles.

"With severe weather always a threat, NOAA had back-up resources and contingency plans already established, so the critical flow of satellite data was uninterrupted," Kicza said.


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