Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fallen satellite finally flies.

Five years ago while being prepared for launch, the NOAA-N satellite had an unfortunate incident while being tipped from vertical to horizontal to be worked on. Seems that something wasn't attached and the satellite fell over onto the floor.
After $217 million worth of repairs, the bird finally flew this week. When officially operational, it then becomes known as NOAA-19. This is the last of the series of weather satellites which first started flying with TIROS 1 back in 1960. There have been 43 launched and this one is the 16th and final of the current series.
The fun thing about these satellites is that anyone can get images from this with fairly modest home equipment. A modified police scanner, a simple antenna, and a computer with software you can often find for free (see Wxtoimg) or for a reasonable fee you can add more features if you register the software. I've just received my first image on my home station this afternoon, and the picture is very clear and sharp (click on the image for a full sized view).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was so neat to see a picture from the satellite that just launched, which we've been waiting for these long 5 years, from equipment you just happen to have. The first time I clicked on the photo, the enlargement was all in faded blues. I clicked it later, and it was exactly like the small photo in proper colors. Beautiful.

Tom said...

That image is taken in "vegetation enhancement" mode so it enhances where there are trees, bushes...etc. All the images are a combination of 2 images - visible and near infrared. The software then pulls out the colors depending on temperature (If I remember right!). So at night, you only see images in the IR since there is nothing to see in visible since its dark.

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