New NOAA system will act as backup satellite data server

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month awarded a two-year, $3.2
million contract to Integral Systems Inc. to build a backup system for the Geostationary
Operational Environmental Satellite Program.


The Lanham, Md., company will build the backup system at Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md. It will process weather data and images from the satellite if weather or
other problems threaten or bring down systems at the primary operations center in
Virginia.


The GOES command and control station on Wallops Island, Va., runs the satellite, which
orbits 25,000 miles above the equator, said Richard Reynolds, chief of the Ground System
Division for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.


NOAA considers the collection of GOES data to be mission-critical for providing weather
data to agency forecasters. NOAA has used the data to track fires in Florida and the West,
and it provides weather maps for evening news broadcasts and Internet sites, Reynolds
said.


If the Wallops Island site is threatened by an event such as a hurricane or a fire,
NOAA shuts down the station to protect the equipment.


If that happens, NOAA forecasters cannot receive weather data, Reynolds said.


NOAA forecasters will receive weather data from the Goddard site when the Wallops
Island station is down. Integral Systems began installing backup GOES hardware at
Goddard last month, including Digital Equipment Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.
workstations and servers.  

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