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> NOAA Weather Satellite Backup Earth Station
NOAA Weather Satellite Backup Earth Station
putting these up around 2008, I think. Because they belong to NOAA, I
initially thought these were weather radar dishes, but after doing some
research I found that they're downlink antennas for the "Joint Polar
Satellite System" satellites, which as far as I can tell are a joint
civilian/military all-in-one earth observation/weather data platform.
According to the internet, these satellites
are for monitoring "global change, including atmospheric temperature
and humidity sounding, sea-surface temperature, land and ocean
biological productivity, cloud and aerosol properties and global ozone
They also function as a downlink facility for the more
well-known fleet of GOES satellites,
which are used to provide the raw weather data on cloud cover,
temperature, humidity, wind, etc... used by the National Weather
Service, Weather Channel, Accuweather, etc... to generate weather
predictions, as well as relaying real-time telemetry from remote
monitoring stations like the USGS
Water Watch system of stream and rainfall gauges.
You can read an
article with more info at The State Journal. The facility in
Fairmont is a backup for the main facility, which is in Maryland.
Fairmont was chosen because it's relatively close to the Maryland site,
but far enough away that it's unlikely to be affected by the same
natural disasters or other events that would impair their operations
The dishes themselves are about 20 meters in diameter,
completely motorized; they can be pointed in any direction and at any
angle. The thing that look like robots you see hanging down are part of
the de-icing system responsible for blowing warm air through the plenum
airspace between the back of the reflector and the fiberglass backing
panels. The weird silver building in the back is the unrelated, but
still pretty kickass Robert H.
Mollohan Research Center.
1000 Galliher Dr