NOAA announced that
its GOES-8 weather satellite is once again monitoring the movements
of Hurricane Mitch, following a successful recovery from an earth-pointing
malfunction. The weather satellite spent approximately 19 hours
in a "safe hold" before returning to operations at
9:45 p.m. EST Oct. 27.
Preliminary analysis by NOAA,
NASA and Space Systems/Loral engineers point to potential problems
in the area of the spacecraft sensor that controls the satellite's
earth-pointing capability. Spacecraft operators at NOAA's National
Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service's Satellite
Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md., switched to the
satellite's backup or "redundant" earth sensor, which
is currently controlling the satellite in its normal on-orbit
mode. A possible cause of the problem may have been an electrostatic
discharge, but analysis is still underway.
"GOES-8 operations are returning to normal and our engineers
continue to closely monitor the spacecraft's performance,"
said Gerald Dittberner, NOAA's GOES program manager. "GOES-8
is expected to return to full service when pointing accuracy
returns to normal. We expect this to occur on Thursday, Oct.
Until the navigation stabilizes, individual images will be useful,
but sequences of images will be misaligned.
While GOES-8 was off-line, there was no interruption of services
to meteorologists at NOAA's Tropical Prediction Center/National
Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., who are providing warnings about
Hurricane Mitch. NOAA satellite controllers programmed a companion
satellite, GOES-10, to cover for the GOES-8 outage.
NOAA's GOES satellites continue to provide an excellent set of
real-time weather data for weather forecasters and researchers.
It is the same imagery seen daily on TV weather forecasts. NOAA's
National Weather Service combines the satellite data with data
from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems to
improve weather forecasts and numerical models. Better warnings
of thunderstorms, winter storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and
other severe weather help to save lives, preserve property and
benefit commercial interests.
funds and operates the GOES series of satellites. NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center manages the design, development, and launch
of the GOES spacecraft for NOAA. The GOES satellites are built
under contract through NASA by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto,