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Happy launch-day satellite NOAA-18! It's been 19 years since on this day in 2005 you were launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Your planned mission was only two years, yet you are still transmitting. Back on Earth, I have cast aside my mum's landline telephone, for a Motorola mobile, for a my first smart phone (a friend's hand-me-down), for an iPhone 13. Can you imagine? It's a pocket-sized radio transceiver that has more computing power than Apollo 11. Dear NOAA-18, radio technology has not only transformed how we make phone calls, it has become cheap and easy to combine with code. While you have been in orbit, software defined radio has become a truly low cost alternative to conventional radio – it is what makes this project, open-weather, possible. Perhaps you already know this since last year, the American government outsourced the management of your data to the longtime defence contractor, Parsons Corporation. Parsons enrolled you in trial cloud-based ground system that is running off Microsoft Azure. As I mentioned in a previous Weather Note, Microsoft has announced that it is building a 'Planetary Computer'. Given your involvement in the trial, it is probable that in your "extended life" you are helping to build this 'digital double' of Earth. Next year, in September, the contract awarded to Parsons to maintain you expires. September 2025 could be date of your mission, but we don't that as information is hard to find. (Parsons, 2022; NOAA, 2023; NCEI, 2023). If true, you have one more birthday to celebrate. Until next year NOAA-18!


20 May 2024 11:44:50


Diepoldpark, by the picnic benches, Vienna

Country or Territory



Soph Dyer



Radio Callsign


Latitute / Longitude

48.223, 16.33