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. In 2016, NOAA launched a multimillion – dollar, next generation GOES-R weather satellite.
The GOES-R provides 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.
The GOES-16, the most advanced weather satellite NOAA has ever developed, will be moved to the GOES-East position at 75 degrees west longitude, once it is declared operational in November. From its perch 22,300 miles over the equator, GOES-16 will be able to see the entire United States.
“GOES-16 will be placed in the east position where it can observe the entire continental U.S., and monitor areas most vulnerable to tornadoes, floods, land falling tropical storms, hurricanes and other severe storms,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s Satellite and information Service.
The new satellite imager has 16 bands of spectral coverage, where the current operational system has five. The satellite can also pick up lightning. GOES-16 scans the Earth and skies five times faster than the current GOES-13. The data will give a clearer picture of the current weather, giving meteorologists a better understanding of what’s happening.
GOES-16 is the first in a series of four next generation geostationary satellites. The next, GOES-S, is scheduled to launch by spring 2018 and will be expected to move to the GOES-West location once it is commissioned.
Artist Rendition of GOES-R. Credit: Lockeed Martin