LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A malfunctioning U.S. weather satellite whose primary instruments were switched off in mid-September is slated to return to full service Oct. 18, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said late Oct. 16.

On Sept. 25, operators switched off the sounder and imaging instruments on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-13, citing “data quality issues.” In an Oct. 16 press release, NOAA said the malfunction was due to “a vibration from aging lubricant in the sounder instrument.”

“The engineers have worked hard to understand and correct the problem, and now data from both the imager and sounder will flow shortly to our key user, NOAA‘s National Weather Service,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of NOAA‘s Satellite and Information Service.

After its instruments are turned back on, GOES-13 will resume its mission of tracking severe weather in the eastern United States or approaching the coast. GOES-14, an on-orbit spare that NOAA activated in early October and began moving to GOES-13‘s 75 degrees west longitude orbital slot, will now be sent back to its storage location. Until Oct. 18, GOES-13 will continue to use its communication systems to relay data gathered by GOES-14‘s instruments.

GOES-15 and GOES-12, the other GOES spacecraft on orbit, will continue monitoring the U.S. West Coast and South America, respectively.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is working under a NASA-administered contract to build the next generation GOES spacecraft, the GOES-R series. The first of these is slated for launch in 2015 and will be renamed GOES-16 when it reaches orbit.

NOAA‘s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the U.S. government‘s civilian weather satellites, which besides the GOES series of satellites include spacecraft in polar low Earth orbit that provide global coverage.



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Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...