The Visual Infrared Spin-Scan Radiometer (VISSR) on board the western Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-4), failed at 0445 UT, November 26, 1982, as a series of intense storms descended on the California coast. The VISSR maps the earth and its cloud cover day and night and allows the tracking and forecasting of severe storm systems. This failure of the VISSR on board GOES-4 deprived weather forecasters of an important means of tracking the nighttime progress of life-threatening storms as they moved across the Pacific.
The cause o f this critical satellite failure is of great interest to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), operators of the GOES network. A study now in progress should resolve the reason for failure and determine whether solar activity caused it. Figure 1 was prepared at the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in response to a call for information about the earth's space environment at the time of the GOES-4 failure.