Newest weather satellite suffers critical malfunction

GOES 17 will be difficult to repair in orbit

By Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist

The two month old weather satellite will be difficult to repair

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made an announcement Wednesday that the only two-month-old weather satellite, GOES 17 has suffered a critical malfunction that will be difficult to repair. 

The GOES-R Program is currently addressing a performance issue with the cooling system encountered during commissioning of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. The cooling system is an integral part of the ABI and did not start up properly during the on-orbit checkout.

A team of experts from NOAA, NASA, the ABI contractor team and industry are investigating the issue and pursuing multiple courses of possible corrective actions. The issue affects the infrared and near-infrared channels on the instrument. The visible channels of the ABI are not impacted.

Essentially, the ABI infrared and near-infrared channels are what makes this weather satellite so revolutionary. Without those features, the GOES 17 will not offer scientists nearly as much data as they expected.

NOAA’s operational geostationary constellation -- GOES-16, operating as GOES-East, GOES-15, operating as GOES-West and GOES-14, operating as the on-orbit spare -- is healthy and monitoring weather across the nation each day, so there is no immediate impact from this performance issue.

If efforts to restore the cooling system are unsuccessful, alternative concepts and modes will be considered to maximize the operational utility of the ABI for NOAA's National Weather Service and other customers. 

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