The nation’s new geostationary weather satellite, GOES-12, has successfully completed testing and is ready to replace one of the country’s older weather satellites when needed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced today.

GOES-12, which was launched as GOES-M on July 23, 2001, is currently stored in orbit, ready to replace GOES-8 or -10 when one of them fails. GOES-8 overlooks the east coast of North and South America, and well out into the Atlantic Ocean. GOES-10 overlooks the west coast and out into the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii.

“Having this satellite to back up the GOES system is very important,” said Steve Kirkner, NOAA’s GOES program manager. “If one of the older GOES satellites fails, GOES-12 can be pressed into service without delay. With GOES-12 stored in orbit, we will be able to receive data within two days of activation.”

For the past several months GOES-12 has been tested by NASA, NOAA and contract engineers. NASA turned GOES-12 over to NOAA today.

The GOES-12 satellite is the fifth of five advanced weather satellites operated by NOAA and designed to help improve forecasting of Earth’s weather and space weather. GOES-12 is the first to have a solar X-ray imager, a sophisticated operational instrument for detecting solar storms.

Real-time weather data gathered by GOES satellites, combined with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems, helps weather forecasters provide better warnings of severe weather. GOES-M provides the ability to monitor and forecast turbulent solar events, which 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.

The GOES-M Solar X-ray Imager 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 solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes and active regions. These features are the dominant sources of disturbances in space weather that lead to geomagnetic storms.

NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md. NOAA’s acquisition is managed by their Systems Acquisition Office in Silver Spring, Md. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development, and launch of the GOES spacecraft for NOAA. Once a satellite is successfully checked out, NASA turns it over to NOAA for operations, including responsibility for command and control, data receipt and product generation and distribution.

GOES information and imagery are available on the World Wide Web at: