The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's network of satellites provide constant coverage of what's happening on Earth. The satellites offer a crucial set of eyes for scientists and researchers, but also, thanks to the NOAA's social media channels, an unusual perspective for civilians as well. The agency regularly posts documentation from the satellite's unique angles on Earthly phenomena—from the path of Hurricane Sandy to the shimmering radiance of an electrified landscape when night hits.
The agency decommissioned the weather satellite GOES-12 in August, after seven years monitoring weather across the Americas. In honor of that service, the NOAA published a YouTube retrospective of what the satellite saw--an image from each of the satellite's 3,788 days, brought to life in an animation.
Major moments include 2005's extra-stormy hurricane season over the Atlantic (including Hurricane Katrina) and the mega-blizzards of 2009 and 2010. But mostly, it looks like wisps of clouds dancing across the planet in a frenetic and endless cycle of change.
What exactly happens to a satellite when it's decommissioned? According to an NOAA press release:
It is boosted further into orbit, the remaining fuel is expended, the battery is disabled and the transmitters are turned off. These maneuvers reduce the chances the satellite will collide with other operational spacecraft. Additionally, decommissioning lowers the risk of orbital debris and stops the satellite from transmitting any signals that could interfere with any current or future spacecraft.
It's a lonely image--the satellite is emancipated into space. The cameras are turned off. The screen goes dark.
Goodbye, GOES-12. Thanks for the pics.