GOES-13 was launched in May 2006 aboard a Delta IV.
Cape Canaveral, FL (Florida Today) -- A satellite critical to tracking
tropical storms and hurricanes that threaten Florida is back in
operation after being knocked out by a micrometeorite strike.
good news at the outset of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.
Forecasters predict 13 to 20 named storms, seven to 11 of which could
develop into hurricanes.
those hurricanes, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration say three to six will be major storms with winds in
excess of 111 mph.
again, NOAA has three healthy geostationary satellites ready and able
to track hurricanes, severe storms, floods and other dangerous
conditions," Mary Kicza, an assistant administrator with the NOAA, said
in a statement this week.
operates two active GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellite) spacecraft in orbits 22,300 miles above the planet - one over
the east coast of the United States and one over the nation's west
coast. A third GOES spacecraft is kept in orbital storage and is pressed
into service when need be.
in May 2006 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the GOES-13
satellite had been holding vigil over the East Coast. But an automatic
shutdown May 22 sidelined the spacecraft less than two weeks before the
June 1 opening of hurricane season.
GOES-13 shutdown occurred when a micrometeorite struck the arm of the
satellite's power-producing solar array, engineers say. The jolt knocked
the satellite off balance, and spacecraft instruments automatically
turned themselves off.
"safe mode" is standard operating procedure in satellite flight
operations. It is intended to preclude additional problems while giving
engineers time to analyze a situation.
compensate, GOES-14, launched on a Delta IV at Cape Canaveral in June
2009, was moved from orbital storage to cover the East Coast while
engineers analyzed the trouble with GOES-13.
GOES-15, launched on a Delta IV at Cape Canaveral in March 2010, currently is watching over the west coast.
tested GOES-13 spacecraft instruments and systems, and determined that
no damage had been done. So the spacecraft was stabilized and put back
into normal operations this week.
the meantime, the stand-in GOES-14 satellite provided NOAA forecasters
with continuous images and data last week during Tropical Storm Andrea.
The storm made landfall in Florida's Big Bend region on June 6 while
GOES-13 was out of service.
The storm tracked over Georgia and South Carolina before weakening over North Carolina and parts of the northeast U.S.
established back-up plan worked," Kicza said. "NOAA forecasters
continued receiving valuable satellite images and data necessary to
issue life-saving warnings for tornadoes and floods."