NASA, NOAA Convene GOES 17 Mishap Investigation Board

October 2, 2018 – NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have appointed a board to investigate an instrument anomaly aboard the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 17 weather satellite currently in orbit.

During post-launch testing of the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument, it was discovered that the instrument’s infrared detectors cannot be maintained at their required operating temperatures under certain seasonal and orbital conditions, resulting in a loss of approximately three percent of the instrument’s availability over the course of a year. This loss exceeds a key design requirement.

NASA and NOAA senior leadership have determined the need to convene the mishap investigation board, which will work to determine the root or proximate cause of the anomaly and identify actions to prevent occurrences on future satellites. The board will begin its work as soon as possible.

David McGowan, chief engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, will chair the five-member board. The other four members are:

Dr. Joel Lachter, human factors investigator, NASA’s Ames Research Center

Rich Slywczak, safety officer, NASA’s Glenn Research Center

Hank Rotter, NASA Engineering and Safety Center technical fellow for active thermal systems, NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Julie Grantier, senior technical lead for systems engineering, NASA’s Glenn Research Center

GOES-17 is one of several next-generation weather satellites in the GOES-R series, including GOES-16, which currently serves as the operational geostationary weather satellite over the U.S. East coast. Later this year, GOES-17 will become operational as the GOES West satellite. Two additional satellites, GOES-T and GOES-U, are currently in development. The advanced instrument technology used on these satellites is contributing to more timely and accurate weather forecasts and warnings.

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) is the primary instrument on board the GOES-R series satellites. It captures continuous images of Earth – scanning the entire globe in five minutes. For rapidly changing events like thunderstorms, hurricanes, or fires, ABI can take images as often as every 30 seconds. And because every second counts during severe weather events, ABI helps save lives and property. ABI also provides images of conditions including dust, sea ice, volcanic ash, fog, clouds, water vapor, vegetation, winds and carbon dioxide.

ABI views the Earth with 16 different spectral bands. It has two visible channels, four near-infrared channels and ten infrared channels. Each channel is like a separate “color” of light, except that all but two of the 16 colors are invisible to human eyes.

The GOES-R Series program is a collaborative effort between NOAA, NASA and industry partners. NOAA manages the GOES-R Series program through an integrated NOAA/NASA office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA also oversees the acquisition of the spacecraft, instruments and launch vehicles. Mission operations are performed by NOAA at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland.