Noaa Satellites Help Rescue 222 People In 2005
On December 31, NOAA satellites detected a distress signal from a fishing boat, 25 miles east of Sarasota, Florida. The signal was relayed to the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Miami, which dispatched a C-130 aircraft that found the stalled boat. The Coast Guard Station Cortez sent a vessel that towed the boat, and the 14 member crew, back into port.
The 14 people whose lives were saved that day are some of the 222 people throughout the United States and surrounding waters that NOAA satellites helped save from potentially life threatening emergencies in 2005.
NOAA’s polar and geostationary satellites, along with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called COSPAS-SARSAT.
The system uses a constellation of satellites to detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, boats and from hand-held personal locator beacons.
Once the satellites pinpoint the location of the distress within the United States or surrounding waters, the information is relayed to the SARSAT Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland, and sent to a Rescue Coordination Center, operated by either the U.S. Air Force for land rescues, or U.S. Coast Guard for water rescues.
“The SARSAT program is doing exactly what it was intended to do–save lives,” said NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. iNOAA satellites, “and the quick responses of the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard continue to be the difference between life and death.”
Since its creation in 1982, COSPAS-SARSAT has been credited with more than 18,500 rescues worldwide, and 5,107 within the United States and its surrounding waters.
Most of the rescues each year happen at sea. Alaska led the nation with 65 rescues in 2005, followed by Florida with 49 rescues. Louisiana, California and Hawaii had 13, 12 and 10 saves respectively.
Last year there was an increase in the number of people buying and registering emergency beacons with NOAA–19,282 beacons were registered in 2005, compared to 18,343 in 2004. The total number of registered beacons now stands at 142,222.
Older emergency beacons, which operate on the 121.5 and 243 megahertz frequency, will be phased out by early 2009, when 406 megahertz beacons will be the standard.
Emergency beacon owners can register their devices online, using the National Beacon Registration Database atwww.beaconregistration.noaa.gov. “The more emergency beacons that are registered with NOAA, the better able SARSAT will perform to save lives,” said Gregory Withee, assistant administrator of NOAAis Satellite and information Service.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.