GeoWorld February 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 31

NEWSLINK NOAA Deactivates, Replaces Aging Pacific Weather Satellite In late 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began deactivating a geo- stationary satellite, GOES-11, that for more than a decade had been tracking weather and severe storms in the Pacific Ocean. GOES-11 is being replaced by GOES-15, which was brought online in 2010 and now has been fully activated. GOES-15 will serve as NOAA's GOES West spacecraft, flying in a fixed orbit over the Pacific Ocean—between Hawaii and the West Coast, 22,300 miles above the equator. GOES-15 should capture higher-resolution images of weather patterns and atmospheric measurements than those provided by earlier satellites, allowing forecasters to pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy. GOES-15 also should provide better data for space and solar weather. The key to such capabilities is the Solar X-Ray Imager, which, for space-weather forecasting, will offer value much in the same way that satellite images offer value for hurricane forecasting. The imager data will improve forecasts and warnings for solar disturbances, protecting billions of dollars of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground. Such information also should reduce the effect of power surges for the satellite-based elec- tronics and communications industry. GOES-15 will work in tandem with NOAA's other operational geostationary satellite, GOES-13, the agency's GOES East spacecraft. "We look forward to the replacement of GOES-11, a third-generation satellite built in the 1990s, with GOES-15, a fourth-generation satellite built in the 2000s at the GOES-West observing station," said Dennis Chesters of NASA's GOES Project at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA oversees launch of GOES satellites and remains a partner to NOAA on GOES work). "The newer model uses star trackers to stabilize the satellite, so animations of the West Coast weather will have very little jitter." In mid-December 2011, NOAA officially decommis- sioned GOES-11 by firing the spacecraft's booster, moving it about 185 miles above its previous geo- stationary orbit. "With its steady eye on dangerous weather con- ditions, GOES-11 served America well, providing the critical images and atmospheric measurements NOAA meteorologists needed to produce life-saving forecasts," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. Air Force Lab Gets 3-D Display Tool An arm of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is using a new 3-D display technology as it works to improve applications for visualizing and understanding the "battlespace": a combination of geography, air, space and cyberspace that make up the field on which a battle might take place. The new tool, billed as a "true" 3-D, full-motion holographic display (FMHD) that requires no spe- cial eyewear, was delivered by Zebra Imaging to a battlespace-visualization branch at AFRL, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The FMHD represents the latest generation of A Dec. 6, 2011, image shows a portion of the first infrared imagery captured by GOES-15 operating as NOAA's fully operational Pacific/ West Coast satellite. In the image, clouds are colorized based on their temperature, an indication of storm intensity. 6 GEO W ORLD / FEB R UA R Y 2O12 Zebra Imaging's ZScape Motion Display (ZMD) tech- nology, which was developed in partnership with AFRL and other government agencies. ZMD allows user interaction within three dimensions, including image zoom, rotation and manipulation. The display system can scale from six inches to six feet diagonally, and wide viewing angles allow simultaneous collaboration NOAA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GeoWorld - GeoWorld February 2012