The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA are set to launch the first in a new generation of weather satellites this fall.
The GOES-R series, short for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series, are scheduled to launch between 2016 and 2025. The first satellite, GOES-R, is scheduled to launch Nov. 4, 2016.
Kathryn Miretzky of Science and Technology Corporation spoke about the satellite at the 44th Conference on Broadcast Meteorology in Austin on June 15. She said the GOES-R satellites will use an advanced baseline imager (ABI). This means the satellite will be able to give a “full disk” image of the earth every 15 minutes, and images from the continental United States every five minutes. Resolution of the images will be 0.5 to 2 kilometers each.
In addition, the new set of satellites will be able to take “mesoscale” images every 30 seconds. These images cover a 1,000 x 1,000 km area with the same resolution as the larger images.
The ABI will scan the earth using 16 spectral bands increased from five bands on the current generation of satellites. The current generation, designated GOES-N, O and P, were launched 2006-2010.
“The new GOES-R satellite will be the most advanced weather satellite in history, and kick off a revolution of new technology that will take us well into the 2030s,” said KVUE meteorologist Albert Ramon about the satellite.
GOES-R series satellites will also incorporate a Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). The GLM will continuously detect cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning over the Americas. NASA and NOAA believe the mapper will be able to detect 70-90 percent of lightning flashes and have the information to computers on earth in less than 20 seconds.
The agencies said the information provided by the mapper would lead to an improvement in tornado and severe thunderstorm lead times.
The added feature of lightning sensors on the GOES-R will allow for us to see just how intense storms are over Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico in both severe weather season and hurricane season,” Ramon said. “Because most significant weather systems come from either the Gulf of Mexico or Mexico (a weather data “dead zone”), this added technology will help us pinpoint meteorological variables that could enhance or inhibit storm development over Central Texas.”
NOAA has used geostationary satellites from the GOES series since 1975. The first ones, GOES A-C (1-3), were “spin-stabilized” and only viewed Earth about 10 percent of the time. According to NOAA, GOES 3 is still being used as a communications satellite, but is scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of June.
The second set of GOES satellites (D-H) added the ability to obtain vertical profiles of the atmosphere. The third generation of satellites (I-M) included separate optics for imaging and sounding, allowing them to work at the same time, and three-axis stabilization meant forecasters could focus on areas of severe weather.
GOES N-P, the current generation, built upon the improvements of the third generation and have been used for years in forecasting. GOES-13 operates as GOES East, covering much of the U.S. and is orbiting the earth above 75° West. GOES-15 operates as GOES West and covers much of the Pacific Ocean at 135° West. GOES-14 is in orbit above 105° West and is serving as a spare in case something happens to GOES West or GOES East.
After launch and testing, the first public images from GOES-R are expected to be released in February 2017. Go here for more information.