90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
What Happens To Forecasting When America's Weather Satellites Die?

We look at what’s at stake for the future of weather forecasting when our aging weather satellites die.

This Aug. 5, 2014 satellite image provided by NASA shows two tropical Pacific Ocean hurricanes - Iselle at center and Julio at right - bearing down on Hawaii, top left. (AP)

This Aug. 5, 2014 satellite image provided by NASA shows two tropical Pacific Ocean hurricanes – Iselle at center and Julio at right – bearing down on Hawaii, top left. (AP)

The weather report comes on, satellite images light up our screens, and we see the future barreling down on us.  Hurricanes, super-storms, you name it – swirling across the blue Earth.  Tracked from space.  Our beach days depend on what we learn there.  But so do our farmers, our fliers, our cargo ships, our traffic planners, and sometimes our lives.  Now, incredibly, the US weather satellite system is in trouble.  Aging out, without guaranteed replacement.  We could soon be flying blind.  Depending on the Chinese military to forecast America’s weather.  This hour On Point:  a rough forecast on weather.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Kathryn Miles, writer-in-residence at Green Mountain College. Author of the forthcoming book, “Super Storm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy.” (@Kathryn_Miles)

Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia. (@DrShepherd2013)

Kerri Cahoy, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dave Brody, executive producer at Space.com. (@DavidSkyBrody)

From The Reading List

Popular Mechanics: America’s Weather-Tracking Satellites Are in Trouble — “To pull together your five-day forecast, meteorologists rely on two types of satellites. The first sits 22,000 miles up, capturing basic information on a fixed location. The second orbits the poles, 500 miles up, filling in crucial image gaps and, more important, providing essential information about cloud formation, surface temperatures, and atmospheric conditions—the data that help us know where a storm is heading and how big it will be when it gets there. “

NextGov: Hacker Breached NOAA Satellite Data From Contractor’s PC — “Unauthorized smartphone and thumb drive use was recently detected on 41 percent of components in systems supporting POES; 36 percent of GOES support systems; and 48 percent of components in the Environmental Satellite Processing Center, a system that handles data received from the satellites.”

The Vane: Why Can Google See Your Car But Satellites Can’t Clearly See Debris? — “Satellites are an integral part of life these days, from meteorologists tracking storm systems to spying on your neighbors in Google Earth. When Malaysia Airlines 370 went missing a few weeks ago, investigators turned to satellite imagery to aid search and rescue teams spot any possible wreckage in the ocean. While crews are using the blurry images as possible leads to search for debris, people on social media want to know why we can’t see the objects more clearly from space.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

 
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: December 19, 2014
Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Rage, shortlinks and things you people seem to be into, we guess. Also, Putin.

More »
Comment
 
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment