Improved Weather Forecasting On Its Way

Weather satellites are the backbone of the National Weather Service (NWS). The satellites are fitted with instruments that observe weather and collect measurements. The data from the satellite travels to the NWS where supercomputers and expert meteorologists run models that turn out sophisticated forecasts.

The first of NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Observations (GOES) satellite has been providing continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions, solar activity and earth’s weather systems for almost forty years. On November 4, 2016, NOAA will launch a multimillion – dollar, next generation GOES-R weather satellite.

The GOES-R will provide five times faster weather coverage, better data for hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, real time mapping of total lightning for improved severe weather forecasts, advanced warning of space weather hazards, and improved transportation safety.

To prepare other countries for the new data forecasting capabilities the satellite will bring, members of the GOES-R team have visited meteorological and academic institutions in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa to keep forecasters and researchers informed and to ensure they will be able to access GOES-R data. This will allow other countries to benefit from the satellite data that will help save lives and protect communities through more accurate forecasts.

Once launched, the GOES-R satellite will go through a post launch checkout for six months followed by an additional six month validation phase. The satellite will be operational in 2017.

The companies and organizations that developed components on GOES-R are in the process of creating three more satellites. GOES-S and GOES-T will launch in 2018 and 2019, while GOES-U is expected to launch in 2024.

Artist Rendition of GOES-R. Credit: Lockheed Martin

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