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The GOES Data Collection System (DCS) is a relay system used to collect information from earth-based platforms. These platforms transmit an electronic signal, containing the environmental data observed by the sensors on the platform, at predefined wavelengths and times. The transponder on board the satellite detects this signal, then rebroadcasts it so that it can be picked up by the ground equipment at the Wallops Command and Data Acquisition (CDA) station, in Wallops Island, Virginia. During this rebroadcast any ground receiving equipment with the correct configuration can also receive this signal.

These platforms can be placed in remote locations and left to operate with minimal human intervention, unlike traditional sensors which require manual data retrieval.  Initial installation and regular maintenance are usually the extent of operator involvement. This allows observations from sites that may not be accessible to humans during parts of the year. It also allows for more frequent and more geographically complete environmental monitoring than most agencies could fund if each site were staffed. Conversely, the DCS provides access to a broader suite of parameters than can be currently observed using satellite radiometers. It is, in essence, the best of both worlds.