Exelis completes advanced baseline imager for GOES-R

November 8th, 2013

News Coverage:

Exelis completes advanced baseline imager for GOES-R

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 7:35 am, Fri Nov 8, 2013.

By Doug LeDuc

Exelis operations in Fort Wayne have finished building the primary payload for a future weather satellite.

The advanced baseline imager (ABI) built locally by Exelis Geospatial Systems will provide high-resolution imagery of environmental conditions. It will be transported in January to Denver, where it will be integrated into the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R).

“The ABI is the foundation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) whole severe weather forecasting capability,” Eric Webster, vice president for the Geospatial Systems weather business, said in a Nov. 1 statement on the latest version of the imager.

“We’ve finished it and it is ready for integration into the satellite. This is a huge milestone in a $10 billion program.”

The GOES-R Series Program administered by NOAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will use visible and infrared imagery to provide around-the-clock coverage of environmental conditions transmitted from satellites in the series positioned 22,300 miles above the earth’s surface.

“Developed out of Exelis core competencies in weather and image science, ABI technology reflects the company’s focus and expertise in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and analytics area of the company,” its statement said.

The technology produces the images seen on television and Internet weather reports, including those forecasting severe weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

The ABIs in space today make images every 7.5 minutes. The version on the GOES-R scheduled for a 2016 launch will make an image every 30 seconds.

Also for the first time it will allow NOAA to pinpoint and track a specific storm while still collecting data and images from across the country. Capabilities of the new imager also will enable the agency to improve products used to monitor rainfall, wildfires and volcanic ash.

“Given the impacts of severe storms in terms of loss of life, property damage and effects on the economy, better forecasts aren’t just a goal but a necessity,” Webster said.

“Forecasters need better information and tools to improve the accuracy and lead time of severe storms. Completing the ABI moves NOAA one step closer to providing significant improvements to all aspects of severe weather forecasts: better insight into the makeup of the storm, higher-resolution images and data five times faster than today’s capability.”

Exelis has built every GOES satellite imager and sounder payload since 1994. NOAA awarded it the contract for the ABI in 2004 and estimates the improved forecasts and information it will be able to provide will save $4.6 billion in weather-related economic losses.

The company has received contracts to build four ABIs for NOAA and NASA, two for Japan and one for South Korea.

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