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NOAA's GOES-M satelliteJune 21, 2001 — Forecasters will soon be able to better detect solar storms that could adversely impact technological systems on Earth thanks to an instrument called a Solar X-ray Imager that will be carried into space aboard a new NOAA satellite. (Click image of GOES-M satellite for larger view.)

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service and NASA today announced the scheduled launch of the new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite or GOES-M environmental satellite. The GOES-M is the first of the NOAA satellites equipped with the new solar storm detection instrument. The launch is slated to take place on July 15 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"The Solar X-ray Imager will provide the kind of improvements in space weather forecasting that satellite imagery did for tracking hurricanes," said Steven Hill, SXI Program Manager at NOAA's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo. "The Solar X-ray Imager will enable us to better protect billions of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground."

The instrument will take a full-disk image of the sun's atmosphere once every minute. The images will be used by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to monitor and forecast the sources of space weather disturbances from the sun, enabling forecasters to predict disturbances to Earth's space environment that can fry satellite electronics, disrupt long-distance radio communications or surge power grids.

The ability to monitor and forecast solar disturbances is valuable to operators and users of military and civilian radio and satellite communications systems, navigation systems and power networks, as well as to astronauts, high-altitude aviators and scientists.

"NASA is excited about providing another fine tool for the NOAA team to use in weather operations, including space weather forecasts," said Martin A. Davis, NASA GOES program manager at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The launch of the GOES-M is the continuation of a 25-year joint program between NASA and NOAA.

NOAA's GOES satellites also are workhorses of weather forecasting in the United States. The real-time weather data gathered by GOES satellites, combined with data from Doppler radar and automated surface observing systems, greatly aids weather forecasters in providing better warnings of severe weather.

The United States operates two meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the equator. The GOES-8 operates over the East Coast and Atlantic Ocean and the GOES-10 operates over the West Coast, the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii. GOES-M will be stored on orbit, ready for operation when needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or –10. It joins GOES-11, also in storage. NOAA assigns a letter to a satellite before it is launched, and a number once it has achieved successful orbit. GOES-M will become GOES-12 once achieving orbit.

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites. After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA assumes responsibility for command and control, data receipt, product generation and distribution.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development and launch of the spacecraft for NOAA. NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for government oversight of launch operations and countdown activities. GOES-M, built by Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications Ltd., will be launched on an Atlas IIA rocket, built by Lockheed Martin. The Solar X-ray Imager was built by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. The on-board meteorological instruments for GOES-M include an imager and a sounder manufactured by ITT Industries Aerospace/Communications Division. The other instruments on GOES-M that will monitor the space environment are an Energetic Particle Sensor, a High Energy Proton and Alpha Detector Monitor, X-ray Sensors, and two magnetometers.

The images taken by the Solar X-ray Imager will be available in real time to the general public via the World Wide Web, through NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center Web site.

Video File Feed: A GOES-M B-Roll of imagery and other materials will be broadcast during NASA TV video file feed scheduled for June 21 at noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and midnight EDT. The video file will also be broadcast at these same times on the day of the pre-launch news briefing and on the day of the launch. NASA TV is broadcast on GE-2, transponder 9C, C-band, located at 85 degrees West Longitude. The frequency is 3880 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Satellite Operations

NOAA's Space Environment Center

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center

NOAA's Satellites Page

NOAA's Solar and Space Page

Media Contacts:
Patricia Viets, NOAA Satellite Operations, (301) 457-5005; Barbara McGehan, NOAA's Space Environment Center, (303) 497-6288;or Cynthia O'Carroll, NASA, (301) 614-5563