Planet Fox > Microwaves > Interesting Microwave Antennas in the Wild > NOAA Weather Satellite Backup Earth Station

NOAA Weather Satellite Backup Earth Station

They started 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 levels". 

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 there.

The dishes themselves are about 20 meters in diameter, and are 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.

Map Coordinates

39.433138° N 80.193426° W

Street Address

1000 Galliher Dr
Fairmont WV

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