Harris Corporation - Weather Forecasts: From Space to Ground

Harris Corporation Weather Instrument and Ground System Key to US Government Next-Generation Weather Mission

November 14, 2016


  • Company plays critical role in NOAA’s next-generation weather program
  • Solutions direct the spacecraft, operate instruments and process the data
  • Improves severe weather forecasting for U.S. government

Harris Corporation’s (NYSE:HRS) new Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) weather instrument and enterprise ground system will be key components of the GOES-R system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) next-generation weather satellite scheduled to launch Nov. 19. GOES-R will provide more detailed, accurate and rapid weather information than what is available from NOAA’s current geostationary weather satellites.

The Harris ABI, the main payload on GOES-R, is a high-resolution digital camera flying 22,300 miles above the Earth. It will increase image resolution to one-tenth of a square mile, or four times better than current imagers. More filters, or spectral bands, on the ABI will detect more information about volcanic ash, dust, clouds, winds, fires, rainfall rate, and hurricane intensity than today’s geostationary weather satellites. Critical information about severe weather events can come as fast as 30 seconds, five times faster than today.

“GOES-R will advance environmental monitoring significantly, marking a quantum leap from 1990s technology into the 21st century,” said Eric Webster, vice president and general manager, Harris Environmental Solutions. “The detail, quality and speed of information coming from the new imager and processed through our ground system will be game changers for meteorologists, the airline industry and other markets dependent on accurate and timely weather forecasts.”

The Harris-built enterprise ground system will direct the satellites, operate the six satellite instruments, including the ABI, and process the significant increase in new data. It will process more data than all of the current GOES satellites combined, with one satellite producing 1.75 terabytes of data products daily for the National Weather Service and other users.

“Processing and moving all this data quickly enables forecasters to truly reap the benefits of the ABI,” Webster said. “If the information is delayed, it could mean the difference between life and death in severe weather situations, like tornadoes. The National Weather Service will receive updated information every 30 seconds in the fastest scanning mode.

The ground system is comprised of equipment in three locations – Suitland, Maryland; Wallops, Virginia; and Fairmont, West Virginia – and includes 300 racks of computers and network equipment, 62 miles of interconnecting cables and six 16.4-meter antennas.

Note: Harris representatives will be available Nov. 17 to Nov. 19 for media interviews at Kennedy Space Center. For information, contact Kristin Jones at 571-419-4718.

About Harris Corporation
Harris Corporation is a leading technology innovator, solving customers’ toughest mission-critical challenges by providing solutions that connect, inform and protect. Harris supports customers in more than 100 countries and has approximately $7.5 billion in annual revenue and 21,000 employees worldwide. The company is organized into four business segments: Communication Systems, Space and Intelligence Systems, Electronic Systems and Critical Networks. Learn more at harris.com.