EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — NOAA satellites play a crucial role when it comes to weather and climate forecasts.

In 2022 alone, the agency said its satellites helped rescue 397 people from potential hazardous or life-threatening situations across the United States and the surrounding waters.

Courtesy: NOAA

The satellites are referred to as “Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking” systems or COSPAS-SARSAT.

NOAA said they performed 275 sea rescues, 80 land rescues and 42 aviation rescues, including a downed aircraft.

Florida had the most rescues with 106, followed by Alaska with 56 and Utah with 20.

COSPAS-SARSAT satellites have been used since 1982, according to NOAA, and have performed over 50,000 rescues worldwide including over 10,000 in the United States and surrounding waters.

NOAA provided the three most notable rescue events:

  • On June 10, a group of 17 hikers were brought to safety after being stranded on a ridge in Sandthrax Canyon, Utah.
  • On Nov. 20, seven people were rescued from a commercial plane that was forced to land on a frozen lake near Bethel, Alaska.
  • 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, Florida.

“The value of NOAA satellites goes well beyond forecasting,” said Steve Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.