GOES-R Imaging Instrument Ready for Installation

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One of the primary instruments for a key U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite is ready to be installed, according to an Oct. 31 press release from the agency.

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), built by Exelis Geospatial Systems of Rochester, N.Y., will be installed on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R, which is scheduled for launch in early 2016.

“The ABI offers breakthrough technology that will help NOAA develop faster and more accurate forecasts that will save lives and protect communities,” Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s satellite and information service, said in the release.

The ABI scans the Earth’s weather, oceans and environment in greater detail than current instruments. Because it captures images of the entire planet every five minutes, as opposed to every 30 minutes like the current imager, and can capture detailed images of storm activity as quickly as every 30 seconds, officials have said the data will lead to improved accuracy in forecasts. 

NOAA officials said the instrument will be shipped from Exelis’ factory in Fort Wayne, Ind., to GOES-R satellite manufacturer Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., for integration with the satellite.

Four instruments for GOES-R have yet to be delivered, NOAA officials said. They include a lightning mapper for the Western Hemisphere, sensors to monitor radiation hazards, a telescope to monitor for solar flares, and a magnetometer, which measures the magnetic field surrounding the Earth. A solar storm warning sensor was completed in May.

The U.S. Congress has made launching GOES-R a priority; a stopgap spending bill enacted Oct. 16 gives NOAA the budgetary flexibility to keep the launch on track.

NOAA, which maintains separate GOES satellites to keep a watch on the U.S. East and West coasts, has warned that the National Weather Service could be reduced to single-satellite GOES coverage for up to two years if GOES-R does not get the money it needs to maintain a 2016 launch.