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NOAA select Enigma Matrix Switch for GOES-R series uplink and downlink signals

ETL has provided the NOAA Command & Data Acquisition stations with an IF switching solution which satisfies the requirements for all the GOES satellite uplinks and downlinks. The level of equipment support given by ETL Systems has been excellent, and it's responsiveness to technical concerns was key to its selection. NOAA has always been able to speak with a knowledgeable engineer at ETL when issues have arisen, and its management is very professional.
Gregory Johnson, GOES Ground System Engineer, NOAA.

The Situation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a leading international agency that works on scientific and environmental matters. Their mission is "to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources".

The National Environment Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) is dedicated to providing timely access to global environmental data from satellites and other sources to promote, protect and enhance America's economy, security, environment and quality of life. NESDIS manages the nation's operational environmental satellites, with which they provide important contributions to U.S national security, by providing defence users with real-time and near-real-time observations for their aircraft, ships, ground forces and facilities worldwide.

NESDIS also contributes to the national economy by providing environmental data that supports resource management of energy, water, global food supplies and other economic and environmental resources. The satellite observations also allow important life-saving decisions to be made, making NOAA a critical agency for information.

ETL Systems won a competitive RF matrix switching procurement with NOAA in 2007, and designed an expandable RF matrix system to technically meet the needs of NESDIS and its plans for future growth. Since then ETL has recently won another contract with NOAA to upgrade the equipment to be compatible with the GOES-R Series, the next generation of geostationary Earth-observing systems.

Hurricane Katrina Satellite Image

The Task

NOAA required high quality and expandable switching systems to receive and transmit important environmental, security and economical data and information. These systems would be critical to its primary RF site, the Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station (WCDAS), since all Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) spacecraft signalling, for both uplinks and downlinks, would be routed through them. Reliable switching systems were needed so as to not lose communications with the entire GOES spacecraft constellation, which are considered U.S national assets.

The Solution

ETL Systems custom built and provided two 48x96 Intermediate Frequency Distribution Systems (IFDS) for its Wallops site, now playing a vital role in every aspect of the NOAA satellite mission.

The matrix systems had to be expandable to allow future upgrades. When NOAA recently joined the GOES-R program, it needed to upgrade its satellite infrastructure and create cross-site compatibility. ETL won the contract again and upgraded the 48x96 IF matrix switch at Wallops to 64x128 and supplied new L-band transmit and receive switching systems.

Two other NOAA sites also used ETL's equipment. ETL's nine matrix switching systems developed for NOAA are used for the entire ground system and GOES series spacecraft. The satellite connectivity is critical to the continuity of operations and NOAA's ability to process weather images.

NOAA's GOES ground system is considered a national critical system and therefore hardware incorporated into it must meet stringent requirements. For example, GOES R data reliability is 99.998 per cent. ETL is world renowned for its reliable and resilient RF performance so its equipment was the top choice for both contracts.

Enigma Matrices

The Result

ETL's matrix switching systems enable NOAA's engineers to command the spacecraft imager to relevant sectors of interest in the event of severe storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, providing forecasters with a constant view, enabling life-saving decisions to be made.

As well as saving lives, this capability for providing advanced storm warnings for the public, media, federal agencies, private sector and weather advisory services, helps individuals protect their property, and protects the U.S economy.

The satellite data is used globally, with NOAA sharing its information with other countries such as Japan, India, Russia, members of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Meteorological Office. By choosing ETL Systems equipment, NOAA can maintain a reliable and secure satellite infrastructure, to protect the environment, national security and quality of life.

"We have been working with NOAA for many years now and are pleased our RF equipment can play such a vital role in international security and providing important environmental data on a global basis. We strive to continually produce the most resilient RF distribution products."

Dr Esen Bayar, Chief Technical Officer, ETL Systems.