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Weather satellite revived after suspected micrometeoroid hit

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A weather satellite that failed just before the start of an expected busy hurricane season is back in service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday.

Engineers believe a micrometeoroid hit a solar wing panel on the GOES-13 spacecraft on May 22, knocking it off balance and triggering its instruments to shut down, NOAA wrote on its website.

A team of engineers determined the collision did not damage GOES-13's instruments or the satellite, and were able to return it to service, NOAA said.

GOES is an abbreviation for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites. The network includes two operational spacecraft, one positioned for detailed views of the eastern United States and one for the west, plus one spare.

When GOES-13 stopped relaying images and data, NOAA activated the spare to help keep tabs on brewing storms and cloud cover while engineers assessed the problem.

The Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season started on June 1 and lasts six months. NOAA forecasters expect an extremely active season with 13 to 20 tropical storms, and seven to 11 of those strengthening into hurricanes.

The three current GOES satellites were built by Boeing and designed to last 10 years. GOES-13 was launched in 2006.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Sandra Maler)