Spaceflight Insider

Coolant problems found on GOES 17 satellite

GOES-S Move to Workstand; Transition into Highbay Photo Credit: NASA

Photo Credit: NASA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found a performance problem with an instrument’s cooling system on the GOES-17 spacecraft. The satellite was launched March 1, 2018, atop an Atlas V 541 rocket.

The issue was discovered during the commissioning of the spacecraft’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. When engineers were conducting the on-orbit checkout phase of these tests, the ABI did not start up properly. The cooling element, which NOAA has described as an “integral part” of the system, will now be studied so as to find the cause of the issue by a team from NOAA, NASA, as well as the ABI contractor.

“The issue with the instrument is confined to the subset of the channels of the instrument,” Steve Volz assistant administrator for NOAA’s satellite and information service said during a media call that was held on Wednesday detailing the issues with the ABI. “The ABI has 16 different spectral channels and the infrared and near infrared channels are affected by this cooling channel issue. The visual channels, the three short-wave channels below one micron length are not affected and are functioning as expected.” 

As Volz noted, the problem encountered during the tests impacts 13 of the infrared and near-infrared channels on the ABI. From here, various potential corrective actions will be reviewed in an effort to fix the issue. Volz went on to note that the other instruments on the satellite appear to be working properly.

GOES-17 is currently in the middle of a roughly six-month long checkout period before it will be moved into its final orbital location in November 2018, NOAA said.

According to NOAA, there should be no immediate impact on monitoring weather conditions as the GOES 14, GOES 15 (GOES-West) and GOES 16 (GOES-East) are all functioning normally. These satellites serve as the agency’s geostationary constellation that helps keep an eye on weather conditions across the U.S. 

However, should the team that is working to root out and and fix GOES-17’s issues are not successful, plans to develop alternative concepts as well as different modes are being reviewed and considered. Volz noted that this should have no immediate impact on the GOES system overall.

“As we continue the investigation of the GOES-17 ABI, NOAA’s geostationary constellation is functioning, healthy and well,” Volz said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that GOES-17 was to launch on March 1, 2019. However, the spacecraft actually launched on March 1, 2018. This article has been edited to reflect the correct information.

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider





Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

This story is written in a very confusing way as if GOES-17 will launch March 1, 2019. GOES-17 is in orbit having problems. GOES-T, which will be renamed GOES-18, launches in 2019.

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