NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research banner

Hillger and Schmit Win Department of Commerce Silver Medal
for GOES Science Test Work

photo: Tim Schmit, CoRP / ASPB, and Don Hillger, CoRP / RAMMB18 August 2011 - Earlier this month the Department of Commerce announced their 2011 Gold & Silver Medal winners. We congratulate Don Hillger and Tim Schmit of STAR's Cooperative Research Program, who were awarded NESDIS' only 2011 silver medal for their outstanding work 'revolutionizing' the NOAA Science Tests for Geostationary Satellites. As a consequence of their efforts, the time to activate one of the 'backup' GOES satellites already in orbit was reduced from 4-7 weeks to less than 24 hours, an improvement whose dollar value is conservatively estimated at $5-10 million.


GOES-11 versus GOES-14 Imager "water vapor" image;
Note the finer spatial resolutions of the GOES-14 image

GOES-11 versus GOES-14 Imager

Additionally, Hillger and Schmit's work diminishes the likelihood that the United States would ever be without an operational GOES satellite. Max Mayfield, former director of the National Hurricane Center, says "One of my fears while serving as NHC Director was the possible loss of a GOES satellite. It is comforting to know that we now have backup GOES satellites already launched and currently in storage. These satellites in storage need to be operational as soon as possible after one of the current satellites fails. Test procedures to reduce the time to make the imager, sounder and derived products operational are critical. One can only imagine what could happen if, for example, a major hurricane were threatening the U.S. and no GOES data were available."

As Schmit stated, "It takes a large and diverse team to check out these satellites. We had lots of help from NASA, NOAA cooperative institutes, other parts of NESDIS, data centers, contractors, and other parts of NOAA, etc. I think the NOAA science tests that check-out the GOES are a great example of the three pillar partnership in action: Government, Industry and Universities. Each group brings a unique strength -- no two groups alone could successfully accomplish the tasks!".

STAR congratulates Hillger and Schmit and the entire team who participated in this highly successful and valuable effort.