Press Release

Environmental Satellite Readied to Detect Solar Storms

By SpaceRef Editor
January 30, 2003
Filed under , ,
Environmental Satellite Readied to Detect Solar Storms

The nation’s newest environmental satellite, GOES-12,
is being readied for operations, NASA and the Commerce
Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) announced today.

GOES-12 is equipped with an advanced instrument for real-
time solar forecasting. The Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) aboard
the satellite will enable forecasters and scientists to
detect solar storms that could impact billions of dollars
worth of assets.

“I want to offer my congratulations to the SXI partners on
their significant achievements,” said Dr. Richard Fisher,
Director of the Sun Earth Connection Division at NASA
Headquarters. “I view the initiation of the new SXI serivce
as a victory for the national scientific research program.
Yesterday’s research mysteries have become the subject of
today’s report on space weather conditions,” he said

The instrument will take a full-disk image of the sun’s
atmosphere once every minute. NOAA and the U.S. Air Force
will use the images to monitor and forecast the sources of
space weather disturbances from the sun. The images will
enable forecasters to predict disturbances to Earth’s space
environment that can destroy satellite electronics, disrupt
long-distance radio communications or surge power grids.

The ability to monitor and forecast solar disturbances is
valuable to operators of military and civilian radio and
satellite communications systems, navigation systems,
astronauts, high-altitude aviators and scientists.

The SXI is a small telescope that makes use of advanced
technology and grazing incidence optics to allow it to see
the sun’s outer atmosphere or corona in X-rays. SXI lets
solar forecasters see phenomena they couldn’t otherwise
view, such as coronal holes, whose high-speed winds cause
geomagnetic storms; and to infer solar activity occurring
behind the sun’s edge, or limb. X-ray images are more
accurate than white light imagers for identifying the
location of flares.

“NASA is excited about providing another fine tool for the
NOAA team to use in weather operations, including space
weather forecasts,” said Martin A. Davis, NASA GOES program
manager at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt,
Md. GOES-12 represents a continuation of a 27-year joint
program between NASA and NOAA.

The United States operates two environmental satellites in
geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the equator. GOES-12
was launched on July 23, 2001, and placed into on-orbit
storage. Controllers at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control
Center in Suitland, Md., are commanding the satellite out of
storage and preparing it for operations.

NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and
Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites.
After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA
assumes responsibility for command and control, data
receipt, product generation and distribution. GSFC manages
the design, development and launch of the spacecraft for
NOAA. The SXI was built by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The images taken by the SXI will be available in real time
to the public via the Internet through NOAA’s National
Geophysical Data Center website at:

SXI imagery is available at:

More information about NASA is available at:

SpaceRef staff editor.