Weather satellites

Why NOAA wants its sounders

By Jon Kelvey

June 1, 2022

The current generation of U.S. geostationary weather satellites can't plumb the atmosphere to produce temperature and moisture measurements, as previous versions did with sounding instruments. As NOAA plans its next-generation constellation, Jon Kelvey looks at the odds forecasters will get their sounders this time.

Space traffic impasse

By Debra Werner

May 1, 2020

Europe and Japan are leading the way toward cleaning Earth orbit of debris; satellite operators around the world must be ready to dodge debris and each other. It’s a chaotic situation that, to some, feels like an abdication of the U.S. government’s traditional leadership role in matters of space at a time when it’s never been more needed. Debra Werner examines the arguments and a potential solution.

Saving GOES-17

April 1, 2019

Cooling pipes were not working inside the camera aboard NOAA’s geosynchronous GOES-17 weather satellite, degrading the performance of its crucial infrared channels. It sounded like game over, but not to NOAA and Harris Corp., the company that built the camera. John Van Naarden of Harris and Dan Lindsey of NOAA explain how engineers learned to operate GOES-17 and its camera without those critical cooling pipes.

Proving themselves

By Debra Werner

January 31, 2019

Weather forecasters are always hungry for more data. Over the last few years, they've learned that signals from GPS and rival constellations can tell them interesting things about the atmosphere. The question is whether cubesats and other smallsats can gather these radio occultation readings accurately enough. Debra Werner takes the measure of a congressionally directed pilot project that could provide the answer.

Mission-critical forecasting

By Debra Werner

July 1, 2018

The U.S. Air Force is in the midst of upending its decades-old approach of gathering life-and-death weather data for commanders and troops with limousine-sized satellites. Smaller is in for this next generation, and privately operated constellations could play a prominent role too. Debra Werner went looking for what could come after the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

Storm warning

By Debra Werner

January 2, 2018

NOAA's newest weather satellites could extend forecasts to 7 days for hurricanes that threaten U.S.

The art of timeliness

By Ben Iannotta

February 9, 2017

A revolutionary weather satellite and the AIAA presidential election

Building GOES-R

February 9, 2017

Getting NOAA's newest satellite into orbit was an odyssey all its own