There are fresh eyes in the western sky, but they're sporting a virtual blindfold with the federal government shut down.
This week NOAA was to officially throw the switch on the GOES-17 satellite, also known as GOES West. (GOES is an acronym for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.) It's been up and feeding back pictures in test mode since March, but NOAA has delayed making it fully operational as federal scientists and engineers wait out the shutdown.
The bird carries an imaging device that has triple the color range and four times the resolution of previous satellites scanning the western U.S. landscape.
Though it's designed primarily as a weather satellite, it can also spot wildfires virtually as they're starting.
It's a "game-changer," according to Paul Wloszek, a program director at Harris Corp., which built the on-board Advanced Baseline Imager.