National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites perform another lesser known, but vital tasks in addition to keeping an eye on the weather: The satellites helped rescue 275 people in 2017, 186 of them at sea, gCaptain.com reports (tinyurl.com/noaasaves). The image of satellites shown is courtesy of NOAA.
The satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System (COSPAS-SARSAT), which uses a network of spacecraft to detect and pinpoint distress signals from emergency beacons anywhere on earth.
The signal’s location is sent to the NOAA SARSAT Mission Control Center in Maryland, which immediately informs Rescue Coordination Centers operated by the U.S. Air Force (land rescues), or the U.S. Coast Guard (water rescues).
“NOAA satellites aren’t just for accurate weather forecasts,” Tim Gallaudet of Oceans and Atmosphere said. “They play a direct role in saving lives.”