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Communications Space Technology

Newest NOAA Weather Satellite Suffers Critical Malfunction (arstechnica.com) 53

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released some bad news yesterday: the GOES-17 weather satellite that launched almost two months ago has a cooling problem that could endanger the majority of the satellite's value. GOES-17 is the second of a new generation of weather satellite to join NOAA's orbital fleet. Its predecessor is covering the U.S. East Coast, with GOES-17 meant to become "GOES-West." While providing higher-resolution images of atmospheric conditions, it also tracks fires, lightning strikes, and solar behavior. It's important that NOAA stays ahead of the loss of dying satellites by launching new satellites that ensure no gap in global coverage ever occurs.

Several weeks ago, it became clear that the most important instrument -- the Advanced Baseline Imager -- had a cooling problem. This instrument images the Earth at a number of different wavelengths, including the visible portion of the spectrum as well as infrared wavelengths that help detect clouds and water vapor content. The infrared wavelengths are currently offline. The satellite has to be actively cooled for these precision instruments to function, and the infrared wavelengths only work if the sensor stays below 60K -- that's about a cool -350F. The cooling system is only reaching that temperature 12 hours a day. The satellite can still produce visible spectrum images, as well as the solar and lightning monitoring, but it's not a glorious next-gen weather satellite without that infrared data.

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Newest NOAA Weather Satellite Suffers Critical Malfunction

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  • " the infrared wavelengths only work if the sensor stays below 60K -- that's about a cool -350F"

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      Sure it is cold but it is cold in space. The funny part in TFS is:

      The cooling system is only reaching that temperature 12 hours a day.

      It shouldn't be to hard to keep that temperature with no direct sunlight on the satellite like, when it is, say, in the shade of planet Earth which should be close to 12 hours a day if the satellite is close enough to Earth although not 12 consecutive hours.

      • Re:Damn, that's COLD (Score:5, Informative)

        by ls671 ( 1122017 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @08:19PM (#56670020) Homepage

        Busted, apparently the thing has a geostationary orbit so very little time in Earth shade, few minutes if not seconds. It would have been nice to mention the orbit in TFS but oh well...

        • It might also have been nice to mention that this is one of four more or less identical satellites. The first -- GOES-16 was launched in late 2016 and has no cooling problems. The other two satellites are scheduled for future launch.

    • by guygo ( 894298 )
      Shhhhh.... be vewwy vewwy quiet, it's hunting picowatts.
  • ... with my apologies.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @07:57PM (#56669862)
    I just ask Google for the weather.
  • I am sure SpaceX can send a crew up and get it retrieved and repaired.
    • I wonder if Elon's roadster has a radiator...
  • Repairman is a passenger and all vehicle operations using remote control.

  • Well nuts. It seems Climate Change has now escaped into outer space. If it reaches the moon we're all in trouble -- where are we going to find enough pizza crust to hold all of that hot, gooey cheese?
  • I wondered who built the thing. Well, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the satellite was made by Lockheed Martin, with this Advanced Baseline Imager being from Harris.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It seams the pork barrel is running low again, time for an um,.... Failure, thats right a failure.

  • Pun alert (Score:5, Funny)

    by OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Friday May 25, 2018 @04:13AM (#56671426)

    GOES-17 meant to become "GOES-West."

    Gee, looks like they should have called it "GOES-South".

    I'll get my coat.

  • -it's not a glorious next-gen weather satellite without that infrared data.

    Why that wording?

  • Satellite can't stay cool? Has global warming extended beyond earth's atmosphere already?
  • It could save others from overheating, but not itself ..

    (I read too many memes these days.)

  • The satellite discovered that climate change has nothing to do with human activity and therefore has "malfunctioned".

    There's no money to be made if the climate is cooling.

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