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NOAA Satellites Aid in 263 Rescues in 2012 After Detecting Distress Signals

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Satellites vital to search and rescue operations

The same NOAA weather and climate satellites that accurately tracked Hurricane Sandy’s path in October also played a key role in rescuing 263 people in 111 emergencies in the United States and surrounding waters in 2012.

Since NOAA’s seven operational satellites circle the globe or sit above the United States, they also carry instruments to detect distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers.

In addition to their role in weather prediction, these polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called Cospas-Sarsat. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly pinpoint the location of the distress signals. Release

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