Cynthia M. O’Carroll


(Phone: 301-614-5563)

Patricia Viets


(Phone: 301-457-5005)

RELEASE NO. 00-113

On the first anniversary of Hurricane Floyd, which brought flooding rains, high winds and rough seas along a good portion of the Atlantic seaboard on September 14 -18, 1999, NOAA stands ready with a new backup station for its satellite Command and Data Acquisition Station located at Wallops, Va. The backup station, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will ensure that data from NOAA’s geostationary satellite that watches over the Atlantic Ocean will continue to flow if the primary site at Wallops is disabled by a hurricane.

The station at Wallops acquires and distributes a continuous flow of data from NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) to users around the country. NOAA’s environmental satellite system is composed of two types of satellites: geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) for national, regional, short-range warning and “now-casting,” and polar-orbiting environmental satellites (POES) for global, long-term forecasting. Both kinds of satellites are necessary for providing a complete global weather monitoring system. GOES images are seen daily on television weather forecasts, monitoring cloud cover and hurricanes and providing special imaging of local severe weather systems.

The new backup station in Greenbelt will ensure data from NOAA’s GOES satellites continue to flow if the Wallops station is threatened or hit by a hurricane. A new 54-foot antenna, weighing over a million pounds, is designed to operate through a Category 3 hurricane (130 mph); and can survive a Category 5 hurricane (155+ mph). The antenna has transmitters for sending commands to the satellites, and receivers for collecting information from the satellites.

The backup station will normally be operated in a standby mode. Engineers, programmers and operators from the Wallops site will be deployed as necessary when a hurricane threatens Wallops, or for other foreseeable emergencies. For unforeseeable emergencies, a rapid response team from NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md., will initially bring the station on-line until personnel arrive from Wallops.

Pictures of the backup facility are online at:

The Wallops Command Data Acquisition Station home page is located at: