A Defective NOAA Weather Satellite Still Sent Back Some Great Photos of the Earth

Saturday, 02 June 2018 - 3:21PM
Earth
Space Imagery
Saturday, 02 June 2018 - 3:21PM
A Defective NOAA Weather Satellite Still Sent Back Some Great Photos of the Earth
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NOAA/NASA
When the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, a scientific agency that studies Earth's oceans and skies) launched their latest weather satellite a few months ago, things didn't go exactly as planned.

That's because GOES-17, a weather satellite that's part of a larger NOAA satellite web for tracking storms, was in Earth's orbit for less than 3 months out of its 15 year mission before it malfunctioned. While out in cold space, the satellite's cooling system failed to start up properly, and this impacted its ability to take images of the planet's surface.

But fortunately, it was only infrared and near-infrared imaging capabilities which were lost, and it's visible light imaging tools were still online. And now, the NOAA just released a pretty impressive time lapse of Earth's Western Hemisphere, comprised of still images taken by GOES-17. See it below:



It's a pretty high quality little video, and that's because GOES-17 is the most advanced satellite in the weather agency's long-running Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite program (or "GOES" for short). The satellite web, which NOAA likes to call its "geostationary constellation", is currently made up of four weather-tracking satellites, the oldest of which is about eight years old. 

Together, the GOES "constellation" is responsible for storm tracking, weather forecasting, and general meteorology. GOES-17's inability to see in infrared still hinders it quite a bit here, as it was supposed to be responsible for monitoring weather patterns around the entire western half of the United States. The NOAA deemed this role "GOES-West," and that role is now permanently held by the previous satellite GOES-16. 

Fortunately, NOAA still has three other satellites to take on the responsibilities that GOES-17 is currently unable to perform, and those are hardly the only storm-tracking satellites orbiting the planet. But it still takes great photos, able to capture "dust, haze, smoke, clouds, fog, winds and vegetation" according to an official NOAA statement.

And this photo is detailed enough that there's a lot to see if you have the patience to scan a photo of the entire hemisphere. If you want to see an even higher quality version of GOES-17's new photo, you can do that here.

But be advised that the file is 82MB, so it could take a moment. 

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