Not good news concerning GOES-17

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GOES-17, the future GOES-West satellite, has a major issue, according to a statement issued by NOAA this morning.

AllisonHouse has received this memo from NOAA today about the status of GOES-17:

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May 23, 2018

The GOES-R Program is currently addressing a performance issue with the cooling system encountered during commissioning of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. The cooling system is an integral part of the ABI and did not start up properly during the on-orbit checkout.

A team of experts from NOAA, NASA, the ABI contractor team and industry are investigating the issue and pursuing multiple courses of possible corrective actions. The issue affects the infrared and near-infrared channels on the instrument. The visible channels of the ABI are not impacted.

NOAA’s operational geostationary constellation — GOES-16, operating as GOES-East, GOES-15, operating as GOES-West and GOES-14, operating as the on-orbit spare — is healthy and monitoring weather across the nation each day, so there is no immediate impact from this performance issue.

If efforts to restore the cooling system are unsuccessful, alternative concepts and modes will be considered to maximize the operational utility of the ABI for NOAA’s National Weather Service and other customers. An update will be provided as new information becomes available.

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Gilbert’s note: in English, this means that the new, soon-to-be GOES-West, GOES-17 satellite would only provide visible imagery, lightning mapper imagery, magnetic readings from the sun, along with a few other products, and that’s it. Infrared, near-infrared and water vapor imagery would not be produced; therefore, some major effects would include that most imagery during nighttime hours would not be available, along with moisture content in the air, which helps us see where systems are in the atmosphere that can produce weather on Earth. Infrared imagery is very useful around the clock, and is a temperature “map”, if you will, which allows us to view clouds at any time, day or night. The GOES-17 infrared channel of the ABI is sensitive enough to even see fog well at night! Water vapor imagery helps us to see disturbances in the jet stream that can assist in the production of snow in winter, and rain/thunderstorms in the warmer seasons. As a result, not having these capabilities severely reduces the functionality of the satellite. We’ll have updates on this situation once more information becomes available…but clearly, if this issue cannot be corrected, then this will be a major blow to the new satellite, and NOAA’s weather satellite program.

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