April 3, 2009

Satellite to improve hurricane forecasting

The U.S. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a $499 million satellite is ready to help predict hurricanes and pinpoint distress signals.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-O, is to be launched April 28 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and will orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth, sending back images for the next decade, said Joe Schaefer, director of the administration's Storm Prediction Center.

This is really exciting. Hopefully, we'll see marked improvements in our ability to forecast, Schaefer told The Miami Herald in a story published Friday.

The 4,000-pound satellite will be able to pinpoint distress signals from planes, ships and individual global positioning system beacons, and more accurately forecast and track hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and wildfires.

We're going to know where you are within meters, said Tom Wrublewski, a spokesman for the satellite project.