NOAA satellites helped save nearly 400 across US last year

Florida had most rescues in 2022

Water rescue (Pixabay)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the past decade, a new fleet of advanced technology has taken flight into space. With the birds eye view, several new NOAA satellites have widened the scope of weather tracking, climate change, air quality, and so much more. Not only are they more efficient, by scanning the Earth five times faster than its predecessor, the resolution has quadrupled.

Along with pinpointing weather, these satellites have also been successful in pinpointing people in need of rescue from potentially life-threating situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters. Just last year, NOAA satellites helped rescue 397 people.

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According to NOAA, of the 397 U.S. rescues last year, 275 were water rescues, 42 were from downed aircrafts and 80 were on land. Florida had the most rescues with 106, followed by Alaska with 56 and Utah with 20.

One of those rescues occurred off the coast of Central Florida. On Aug. 5, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pulled a sailor to safety from his capsized boat off the coast of New Smyrna Beach. The sailor grabbed the life raft and activated his beacon before his boat sank.

NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system. The system of U.S. and international spacecrafts detect and locate distress signals sent from emergency beacons from aircrafts, boats and even handheld personal beacons anywhere in the world.

A graphic showing 3 categories of satellite-assisted rescues that took place in 2022 (NOAA)

How are the satellites alerted?

All of NOAA’s satellites are connected to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system (SARSAT), a system made up of national and international spacecraft that are able to hone down a location, from anywhere in the world, where a distress signal was sent. These emergency alert signals can come from beacons located on aircraft, boats or even on a handheld personal locator.

These signals are sent out and bounced off satellites to the control center in Maryland. From there, the information is quickly relayed to Rescue Coordinating Centers operated by the Air Force or Coast Guard.

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About the Author:

Candace joined the News 6 team as the weekend morning meteorologist and reporter. She comes to Central Florida from Miami.