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A $350 Million (£260m) weather satellite, launched less than three months ago, has a serious cooling problem that could make its photos of Earth useless.
The GOES-17 satellite's instrument for taking images of hurricanes, wildfires, volcanic eruptions is now malfunctioning, experts say.
Sensors - Satellite - Night - Side - Earth
Its infrared sensors aren't cooling properly, meaning they won't work when the satellite is on the night side of the Earth and directly exposed to the sun's rays.
Experts are scrambling to establish the cause of the problem to fix it, anticipating this will take at least several months.
National - Oceanic - Atmospheric - Administration - NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) officials are currently working on the problem with the GOES-17 satellite, launched in March from Cape Canaveral.
'As you can imagine, doing this remotely from 22,000 miles (35,000 km) below only looking at the on-orbit data is a challenge,' said Steve Volz, head of NOAA's satellite and information service.
Lockheed - Martin - Space - Systems - Denver
Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver has so far built two Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).
It is building two more for NOAA under a $1.4 billion (£1bn) contract NASA signed in 2008 to replace outdated craft already in orbit.
Satellites - Watch - US - Coastlines - Cost
Together, the four Lockheed-built satellites will keep watch on US coastlines through 2036 at a cost of around $11 billion (£8.24 billion) to NOAA.
Dr Volz told reporters the trouble with the second satellite, GOES-17, was discovered three weeks ago during the satellite's routine checkout in orbit.
'This - Problem - Channels - Elements - Requirement
'This is a serious problem,' he said. The infrared channels 'are important elements of our observing requirement, and if they are not functioning fully, it is a loss.'
The problem is with 13 of the 14 channels in the infrared and near infrared, which are meant to operate at around -350°F (-200°C).
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