The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 30, 2020 1:00 am

Local-built imager glitches during hurricane

Contact error solved by restart

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne-built imager transmitting pictures from space of Hurricane Hanna malfunctioned for several hours after the storm had been downgraded to a tropical depression.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that its engineers, along with contractors Lockheed Martin and L3Harris, are investigating “a technical glitch” Sunday night and Monday morning in the Advanced Baseline Imager, the primary instrument on the GOES-16 weather satellite. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.

L3Harris designed and assembled the imager at its plant at Lima and Cook roads. The Associated Press called the GOES-16 the “most advanced weather satellite ever built” when it launched in 2016. It and the newer GOES-17 provide continuous images of the Western Hemisphere from more than 22,000 miles away from Earth.

L3Harris referred questions on the temporary failure of the imager to NOAA.

The Advanced Baseline Imager “suffered an internal communications interruption between the instrument and the spacecraft. This prompted the ABI to go into a safe hold,” agency spokesman John Leslie said in an email to The Journal Gazette. Leslie said the interruption lasted from 8:36 p.m. Sunday until 3 a.m. Monday, when engineers restarted the imager.

Hanna formed last week in the Gulf of Mexico and slammed the Texas coast Saturday evening as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm caused flooding, wind damage and power outages before weakening to a tropical depression over Mexico.

Storm watchers took to Twitter when the GOES-16 satellite stopped sending images. Here is a sampling:

“2020 has claimed GOES-16 too?!?”

“GOES-16 is having a bad day in space.”

“2020, please don't take GOES-16 with you :(”

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