27 June 2017

Satellite Data

We've passed the 50th anniversary of the first meteorological satellite*, on to 60! Even though satellites have been used for decades, it's still far from simple to do so. Or, rather, it is much more involved than I used to think. I suppose it shouldn't really have been a surprise. Automated weather stations on earth have plenty of problems, and they're operating at earthly temperatures, near somebody who can fix minor problems if they occur, and do so before they become major problems.

By way of my day job (again, I do _not_ speak for my employer), I use satellite data and do so heavily enough that I'm on the mailing list for operational updates about the current status of the satellites, data receiving stations, and other parts of the system between my desk (well, the supercomputer at work) and the satellite.

One thing which has really impressed itself on me is that there is far more to satellites than launching them and waiting for lovely data to flow forth. Second is that there must be a large number of very highly skilled people working between the satellite and my desk to ensure that the data flows reliably, at high quality, and in a timely fashion.

Fortunately, though I'm about to name some challenges and problems, they're _known_ problems and challenges, with solutions. Engineers don't like leaving problems standing. Problems are things to be solved! So, a few stories: