The latest GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter is now
available for download.
GLM monitored lightning activity within severe storms across the U.S.Video Feature
GOES-18, launched March 1, is undergoing post-launch testing to prepare for operations in early 2023.Transition Plan
The satellite observed a number of weather events and environmental hazards across the Western Hemisphere.
GOES-T launched from the Kennedy Space Center aboard an Atlas V rocket on March 1, 2022 4:38pm EST.
The satellite will undergo final preparations for launch in early 2022.
The GOES-T team has spent years building and testing the satellite. Now it’s time for final preparations to launch it into space!
This new video series features significant weather events and environmental hazards, as seen by NOAA satellites.
NOAA's latest generation of geostationary weather satellites
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R Series is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites. The GOES-R Series significantly improves the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property and our nation’s economic health and prosperity.
The satellites provide advanced imaging with increased spatial resolution and faster coverage for more accurate forecasts, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.
The GOES-R Series is a four-satellite program (GOES-R/S/T/U) that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036.
Remote environmental sensing is only part of the GOES-R Series mission. The satellites also provide unique capabilities to relay data directly to users to meet critical needs
DCS is a satellite relay system used to collect information from Earth-based data collection platforms that transmit in-situ environmental sensor data from more than 20,000 platforms across the hemisphere.
GOES Rebroadcast provides the primary relay of full resolution, calibrated, near-real-time direct broadcast space relay of Level 1b data from each instrument and Level 2 data from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). GRB replaces the GOES VARiable (GVAR) service
The Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) is a direct service that provides users with weather forecasts, warnings, graphics and other information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS) in near real-time. The HRIT service is a new high data rate (400 Kpbs) version of the previous LRIT (Low Rate Information Transmission), broadcasting GOES-R Series satellite imagery and selected products to remotely-located user terminals.
The SARSAT system detects and locates mariners, aviators and other recreational users in distress. The GOES-R Series continues the legacy function of the SARSAT system on board NOAA’s GOES satellites. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, vessels and from handheld personal locator beacons. The GOES-R Series SARSAT transponder operates with a lower uplink power than the current system (32 bBm), enabling GOES-R Series satellites to detect weaker beacon signals.
The GOES-R series spacecraft bus is three-axis stabilized and designed for 10 years of on-orbit operation preceded by up to five years of on-orbit storage. The spacecraft carries three classifications of instruments: nadir-pointing, solar-pointing, and in-situ. Visit the Spacecraft page of this site for more information.
Explore the GOES-R Series spacecraft: Use the quick view buttons above to swap the views of the spacecraft, launch the spacecraft 3d model using the button below, watch the video below and use the Spacecraft & Instruments links below.
A fly by in space of GOES-R. Note: there is no audio, therefore no closed captions.
The most recent images of Earth's western hemisphere from the GOES constellation.
Environmental satellites provide data in several different formats. The most commonly used channels on weather satellites are the visible, infrared, and water vapor.
Visible satellite images, which look like black and white photographs, are derived from the satellite’s signals. Clouds usually appear white, while land and water surfaces appear in shades of gray or black. The visible channel reflects solar radiation. Clouds, the Earth's atmosphere, and the Earth's surface all absorb and reflect incoming solar radiation. Since visible imagery is produced by reflected sunlight (radiation), it is only available during daylight.
In the infrared (IR) channel, the satellite senses energy as heat. The Earth’s surface absorbs about half of the incoming solar energy. Clouds and the atmosphere absorb a much smaller amount. The Earth’s surface, clouds, and the atmosphere then re-emit part of this absorbed solar energy as heat. The infrared channel senses this re-emitted radiation. Infrared imagery is useful for determining cloud features both at day and night.
Water vapor imagery is used to analyze the presence and movement of water vapor moisture in the upper and middle levels of the atmosphere. The wavelength spectrum used to detect water vapor is in the 6.7 to 7.3 micrometer wavelength range. The darker regions in water vapor imagery are areas where very little water vapor exists in the middle and upper troposphere, and the lighter regions are very moist. Water vapor imagery is a very valuable tool for weather analysis and prediction because water vapor imagery shows moisture in the atmosphere, not just cloud patterns. This allows meteorologists to observe large-scale circulation patterns even when clouds are not present.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains two primary constellations of environmental satellites: geostationary and polar-orbiting. These satellites are part of NOAA's integrated observing system, which includes satellites, radar, surface automated weather stations, weather balloons, sounders, buoys, instrumented aircraft and other sensors, along with the data management infrastructure needed for this system.
Geostationary satellites orbit 35,800 km (22,300 miles) above Earth's equator at speeds equal to Earth's rotation, which means they maintain their positions and provide continuous coverage. Information from geostationary satellites is used for short-term (1 day) weather forecasting and severe storm warning and tracking.
Polar-orbiting satellites make regular orbits around the Earth’s poles from about 833 km (517 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The Earth constantly rotates counterclockwise underneath the path of the satellite, making for a different view with each orbit. Information from polar-orbiting satellites is used for mid-range (3-7 day) forecasts and advanced warnings of severe weather.
GOES satellites continually view the continental United States, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central and South America, and Southern Canada. To fully cover Alaska, Hawaii, the entire continental United States and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (for tropical storms), NOAA operates two GOES satellites simultaneously: GOES East and GOES West. GOES East is located at 75.2° W and provides most of the U.S. weather information. GOES West is located at 137.2°W over the Pacific Ocean. In addition to two operational satellites, NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare.
Since 1975, GOES have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. NASA builds and launches the satellites and NOAA operates them.
GOES-R launched on November 19, 2016, and was followed by GOES-S on March 1, 2018. GOES-T launched on March 1, 2022, and GOES-U is planned for launch in 2024.
GOES-T, the third satellite in the GOES-R Series, launched on March 1, 2022, at 4:38 p.m. EST. GOES-T lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket. GOES-T reached geostationary orbit on March 14, 2022, and was renamed GOES-18. GOES-18 is expected to replace GOES-17 as the operational GOES West satellite in early 2023.
GOES-S launched on March 1, 2018 and was renamed GOES-17 when it reached geostationary orbit on March 12, 2018. GOES-17 joined its sister satellite, GOES-16, in orbit. The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, launched on November 19, 2016, and became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit. GOES-16 replaced GOES-13 as NOAA’s operational GOES East satellite at 75.2 degrees west longitude on December 18, 2017. GOES-17 became the operational GOES West satellite at 137.2 degrees west longitude on February 12, 2019, replacing GOES-15.
GOES-U is planned for launch in April 2024.
GOES satellites are placed into a geosynchronous orbit that keeps them over a specific location on the earth. By maintaining a position hovering over a fixed point on Earth's surface, GOES are able to constantly monitor atmospheric conditions in a particular portion of the Earth's atmosphere. Note that non-geosynchronous orbits (for example polar orbits) move over an ever-rotating earth underneath them, therefore seeing a constantly changing view, which has advantages for other types of missions.
GOES-16 became operational as NOAA’s GOES East on December 18, 2017, replacing GOES-13. From its operational location of 75.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-16 is keeping watch over most of North America, including the continental United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west coast of Africa.
GOES-17 replaced GOES-15 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite on February 12, 2019. From its operational location of 137.2 degrees west longitude, GOES West is in position to watch over the western continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean all the way to New Zealand.
NOAA powered off GOES-15 on March 2, 2020 and placed it into orbital storage. Since late 2018, GOES-15 has operated in tandem with its advanced, newly launched replacement, GOES-17, as a precaution, while engineers worked on technical issues with the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the primary instrument on the satellite. A blockage in the pipe prevented the ABI from cooling properly and hindered its ability to collect data during certain periods and hours of the year. Engineers mitigated the issue through operational changes to the ABI and mission operations, including the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques, to regain capability to collect data during a portion of the affected period. Those efforts have resulted in the GOES-17 ABI delivering 98 percent of expected data. NOAA plans to return the GOES-15 imager to temporary service during the peak period for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones, around August 2020.
Hundreds of miles apart, but connected by the same weather system, urban St. Louis and rural Appalachia have recently experienced devastating flash flooding. NOAA satellites monitored the storms that produced the catastrophic flooding, measuring the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, cloud top temperatures, and lightning activity. Scientists also use data collected NOAA satellites to produce flood maps to determine where flooding may be occurring. These maps help first responders decide where to send aid. When storm systems develop with the potential to cause flash flooding, NOAA satellites will be watching.
Strong winds and extremely dry conditions fueled a wildfire that ignited on July 22 near Yosemite National Park. The Oak Fire is currently the largest active wildfire in California, burning more than 18,800 acres. NOAA satellites are monitoring the rapidly spreading fire and providing critical data. GOES-17 is measuring the Oak Fire’s intensity, tracking its spread, and monitoring the movement of smoke in near real-time. As drought persists, and fire season ramps up, NOAA satellites will be watching and providing timely and potentially life-saving information.
While NOAA’s GOES-18 undergoes post-launch testing (PLT) and calibration of its instruments and systems, the new satellite is in position to help forecasters during the height of the 2022 Pacific hurricane season. GOES-18 was moved to 137.0 degrees west longitude early in PLT so its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) data will be available to forecasters during the “warm” periods that degrade some GOES-17 (GOES-West) imagery during the height of hurricane season. NOAA implemented a unique solution to mitigate the loss of warm period GOES-17 imagery by delivering GOES-18 ABI data to GOES-West data users. Starting on Aug. 1, 2022, GOES-West data users will receive GOES-18 ABI data for operational use. This will be accomplished through a data “interleave” that will deliver GOES-18 ABI data with GOES-17 lightning mapper and space weather data through the GOES Rebroadcast and Product Distribution and Access data delivery systems. This period of data interleave will end on Sept. 6. A second period of data interleave will take place from Oct. 13 through Nov. 14 of this year.
The Solar Ultraviolet Imager, or SUVI, onboard NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite, which launched on March 1, 2022, began observing the sun on June 24, 2022. The sun’s 11-year activity cycle is ramping back up, meaning phenomena such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and solar flares are increasing in frequency. GOES-18’s SUVI captured a CME on July 10, 2022. SUVI monitors the sun in the extreme ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Depending on the size and the trajectory of solar eruptions, the possible effects to near-Earth space and Earth’s magnetosphere can cause geomagnetic storms, which can disrupt power utilities and communication and navigation systems. These storms may also cause radiation damage to orbiting satellites and the International Space Station.
The Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) onboard NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite are powered on, performing well, and observing the sun. On July 5, 2022, EXIS observed a pair of moderate flares that erupted on the sun between 3:30 and 4:30 UTC. EXIS has two main sensors, the X-Ray Sensor (XRS), which measures soft X-rays, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Sensors (EUVS), which measure extreme ultraviolet light. The two flares appeared differently near Earth and demonstrate why EXIS observes light from the sun at multiple wavelengths. EXIS, with its multiple sensors, can observe and quantify the difference between the light from solar flares and help determine in real-time whether the flares will affect us on Earth.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for April – June 2022 is now available. GOES-18 is doing well in post-launch testing, with the first imagery released from four of its instruments. GOES-18 is now operating near the GOES-West location, getting ready to provide operational Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) data to forecasters during the GOES-17 warm period outages. The team did an excellent job making the novel ABI ‘interleave’ and cloud delivery techniques possible. GOES-U is also making great progress, with the System Integration Review complete, and Pre-Environmental Review happening in mid-July. GeoXO is ever more active, with Phase A studies awarded for three more instruments, and preparations in high gear for the System Requirements Review in August.
Lightning can be a beautiful—and scary—part of Earth’s weather. You probably have seen lightning in a thunderstorm, but do you know why lightning happens? Learn more in this new video from NOAA SciJinks.
Throughout June 2022, NOAA satellites monitored wildfires in Alaska that have burned more than 1.6 million acres. Unusually hot and dry weather in the region increased the risk of fires. These conditions led to more than 300 fires in recent weeks, with many sparked by lightning. On May 31, lightning ignited the East Fork Fire and burned over 250,000 acres, making it one of the largest tundra fires on record. Meanwhile, the Lime Complex Fire has burned more than 600,000 acres in southwestern Alaska. As Alaska’s historic wildfire season continues, NOAA satellites are keeping watch.
June 21 marked the official start of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice — the longest day and shortest night of the year — occurred at 5:14 a.m. EDT. The summer solstice is the moment the hemisphere reaches its greatest tilt toward the sun. As the Earth rotates on its axis, the North Pole experiences 24 hours of daylight, while the South Pole is obscured in darkness. NOAA’s GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites constantly observe the same region of Earth, allowing a view of the terminator as it moves across the Western Hemisphere. The terminator is the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn. The slope of the terminator curve changes with the seasons.
NOAA’s GOES-18 is now sending back data from its new post-launch testing position over the Pacific Ocean. From its new vantage point, GOES-18 can now see Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean all the way to New Zealand. This location allows it to monitor the northeastern Pacific, where many of the weather systems affecting the continental U.S. originate. GOES-18 has already seen a lot from its new location. Recently, the GOES-18 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) monitored a number of weather events, meteorological phenomena, and environmental hazards. The satellite tracked fire activity in Alaska, snow and the movement of fog and smoke. It monitored a low pressure system off the West Coast and severe thunderstorms in Colorado. GOES-18 also viewed mesmerizing von Kármán vortices off the coast of Isla Guadalupe and beautiful cloud formations over Hawaii. As GOES-18 continues post-launch testing, its ABI will provide critical information for eastern Pacific hurricane forecasters despite not yet being fully operational. After the completion of post-launch testing and checkout, NOAA plans for GOES-18 to replace GOES-17 as the operational GOES West satellite in early 2023.
The 2022 hurricane season is officially underway. The eastern Pacific hurricane season began on May 15, while June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA satellites monitored the first named storms in each hurricane basin. Tropical Storm Agatha formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean on May 28 and rapidly intensified into a Category 2 hurricane. On May 30, Agatha became the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall along the Pacific coast of Mexico in the month of May. Remnants from Agatha helped fuel what would become the Atlantic’s first named tropical storm, Alex, which affected south Florida at the beginning of June. NOAA satellites provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. As the hurricane season ramps up, NOAA satellites are keeping watch.
A team of scientists from NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and South Dakota State University has developed more accurate forecasts to predict the impacts of wildfire smoke on air quality. The method known as Regional Hourly Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Emissions, or RAVE, combines observations from instruments on NOAA’s geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites to calculate estimates of wildfire emissions.
On June 2, NOAA shared striking first imagery from the GOES-18 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). Recently, GLM monitored lightning activity within severe storms across the U.S. The instrument captured significant lightning activity in the derecho that moved across the Northern Plains on May 12-13. GLM helps forecasters identify intensifying storms and captures the evolution of individual storm cells that combine to form massive storm systems. Widespread weather events pose particular challenges for the aviation industry. GLM data helps pilots and air traffic controllers route flights to maximize safety and minimize economic impacts. GOES-18 is undergoing post-launch testing to prepare it for operations. NOAA plans for GOES-18 to begin operating as GOES West in early 2023.
Winners of the 2022 GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair were announced on June 1. In this nationwide virtual science competition, students designed projects that used GOES 16/17 satellite data to investigate weather or natural hazards. Each individual/team shared their project through a scientific poster and a short video presentation. The winning high school project, by Rebecca Liftik of Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, Maryland, examined pyrocumulonimbus clouds in the 2021 Bootleg Fire using GOES-17 data. The winning middle school project, from Eric Sun and Sean Jiang of Gilman Middle School in Baltimore, Maryland, studied the causes of the 2021 California wildfires using GOES-17 data.
On May 11, 2022, NOAA shared the first images of the Western Hemisphere from its GOES-18 satellite. The satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument recently observed a number of weather events, environmental phenomena, and striking views of Earth. Storms across east Texas produced large hail, strong wind gusts, and tornadoes. Farther west in New Mexico, strong winds resulted in large areas of blowing dust and expansion of large wildfires. Fog blanketed parts of Chile in South America, and clouds and some thunderstorms formed along sea breezes in the Yucatan and south Florida. GOES-18, launched on March 1, 2022, is currently undergoing post-launch testing in preparation for transitioning to operations as GOES West in early 2023.
The Goddard Magnetometer (GMAG) instrument, launched aboard NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite on March 1, 2022, is now transmitting magnetic field measurements down to Earth. On April 27, 2022, the GOES-18 GMAG captured a space weather phenomenon known as plasma waves. These waves play a significant role in controlling the levels of dangerous energetic particles that cause damage to satellites and harm astronauts. The GOES-18 GMAG is an upgraded magnetometer instrument that offers improved measurements of Earth’s magnetic field over the magnetometers on GOES-16 and GOES-17.
The Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) instrument onboard NOAA's GOES-18 satellite is now sending radiation data back to Earth. GOES-18 launched on March 1, 2022, and the SEISS sensors have been collecting data continuously since April 25, 2022. The GOES-18 SEISS detected a number of radiation belt disturbances on April 27-29, 2022. Shortly after these observations were seen by the GOES-18 SEISS, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued an alert for a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm, warning of possible risk to satellite systems due to charging.
Since early April 2022, NOAA satellites have been watching wildfires burning across parts of the Southwest and Plains. The two largest fires located in northern New Mexico, the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires, have burned more than 60,000 acres. GOES-17 watched smoke billowing over the region and drifting to areas upwind bringing hazy skies to communities many miles away. GOES-17 and GOES-16 also detected hot spots from the fires in near-real time while providing information on the size and intensity of these fires. NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP captured daytime and nighttime images of the fires. They also took air quality measurements and tracked the movement and thickness of smoke over the region. As fire season starts earlier and ends later, NOAA satellites are keeping watch.
Before we had satellites, we could only imagine what the Earth looked like from above. Our view has come a long way, from changes in technology to how we understand Earth’s systems. Built upon NASA’s pioneering efforts, NOAA’s satellite program continues to improve Earth observations from space. Since 1970, NOAA satellites have monitored Earth's weather, environment, oceans and climate. As NOAA satellites continue to advance, they increase our understanding our planet, because every day at NOAA is Earth Day.
This week, NOAA satellites monitored a large storm system that brought winter weather to some regions and severe weather to others. GOES-17 watched as the system moved eastward across the Pacific Northwest where it brought snow. GOES-16 watched the progression of the storm as the cold air met with the warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. This clash of air masses led to severe weather in multiple states across the Midwest and South. The GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper watched as the storms produced frequent lightning as they marched eastward. The system produced more than 500 reports of damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes throughout the central U.S. The storms finally wound down as the system reached the East Coast.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for January – March 2022 is now available. Congratulations to the team on another successful launch! GOES-T lifted off on March 1, 2022, four years to the day after GOES-S launched. The satellite reached geostationary orbit on March 14 and is now GOES-18. Post-launch testing is now underway and GOES-18 is expected to take its place as the operational GOES West satellite in early 2023. Getting GOES-18 into orbit was a remarkable feat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, the team is busy with GOES-U integration and testing in preparation for launch in 2024 and progressing through GeoXO Phase A activities toward Milestone 2 later this year.
The vernal equinox on March 20, 2022, marked the beginning of astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The spring equinox results in nearly equal daylight and darkness across the planet. During an equinox, the terminator – the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn – is a straight north-south line over the equator. GOES-16 and GOES-17 constantly observe the same region of Earth, allowing a view of the terminator as it moves across the Western Hemisphere. Earth’s seasons change due to the tilt of the planet’s axis as it orbits the sun. Throughout the year, these satellites observe the markers of seasonal change.
On March 14, 2022, GOES-T executed its final engine burn, placing the satellite in geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth. Upon reaching this milestone, GOES-T was renamed GOES-18. NOAA’s GOES-T satellite launched on March 1, 2022, at 4:38 p.m. EST, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The satellite launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41. The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of four advanced geostationary weather satellites, blasted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket at 4:38 p.m. ET today from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After a successful separation from the Centaur upper stage, GOES-T began flying freely. Shortly after, the satellite completed deployment of the stage 1 solar array that will generate electricity for the spacecraft during its mission. GOES-T is orbiting above the Earth, its systems are in good health and it is operating on its own.
GOES-T lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on March 1, 2022, at the opening of the launch window at 4:38 p.m. EST. The spacecraft separated from the Centaur upper stage at 8:11 p.m. EST and first stage solar array deployment occurred at 8:28, with power positive confirmed. View additional photos of the GOES-T launch. Watch the United Launch Alliance GOES-T Launch Highlights video. The NASA live GOES-T launch broadcast and commentary show featured live interviews with NOAA and NASA experts and was co-hosted by NOAA’s Kevin Fryar.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and its GOES-T payload were moved to the launch pad on Feb. 28, 2022, as preparations continue for the March 1 launch from Space Launch Complex 41. View video of the GOES-T rollout. See additional photos in the GOES-T Road to Launch image gallery. NASA Edge provided live coverage of the rollout, including live and pre-recorded interviews with NOAA and NASA experts. Experts interviewed included: Pam Sullivan, GOES-R System Program Director; Ed Grigsby, GOES-R Deputy System Program Director; Dan Lindsey, GOES-R Program Scientist; and Candace Carlisle, GOES-R Flight Project Manager. Watch the NASA Edge Rollout Show.
The GOES-T pre-launch news conference was held Feb. 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing featured experts from NOAA, NASA, United Launch Alliance, and Space Launch Delta 45. The briefing was broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Media participated virtually. Panelists included: Steve Volz, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Services, NOAA; Pam Sullivan, director, GOES-R Program, NOAA; John Gagosian, director, Joint Agency Satellite Division, NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate; Tim Dunn, launch director, NASA’s Launch Services Program, Kennedy Space Center; Scott Messer, program manager, NASA Launch Services, United Launch Alliance; and Jessica Williams, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, Space Launch Delta 45. View video of the pre-launch news conference.
The GOES-T Launch Readiness Review (LRR) was completed on Feb. 26, 2022. The LRR updated the mission status, closed out actions from the Flight Readiness Review and authorized approval to proceed into launch countdown. The Certificate of Flight Readiness (CoFR) was signed at the conclusion of the LRR. GOES-T is a "go" for launch on March 1, 2022.
With the upcoming launch of NOAA’s new GOES-T satellite, staff at ground stations such as NOAA’s Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station (WCDAS) located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility are in full swing preparing for the event. Although Wallops launches smaller rockets as well as research aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and high-altitude balloons, the facility also supports NOAA’s satellite tracking and commanding capabilities. Learn more about what goes on at Wallops before and after a satellite launch.
The GOES-T pre-launch science briefing was held on Feb. 25, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. EST and featured experts from NOAA, NASA, Lockheed Martin and L3Harris. The briefing was broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Media participated virtually. Panelists included: Dr. Dan Lindsey, GOES-R Program Scientist, NOAA; Dr. Jim Yoe, Chief Administrator, Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation, who participated virtually; Candace Carlisle, GOES-R Flight Project Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Tewa Kpulun, Geostationary Lightning Mapper Science Lead, Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Daniel Gall, Advanced Baseline Imager Chief Systems Engineer, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris Technologies. View video of the science briefing.
The GOES-T Mission Dress Rehearsal (MDR) was conducted on Feb. 23, 2022. The MDR was a dry run for launch, allowing the launch team to participate in various simulated launch procedures and activities.
The GOES-T Flight Readiness Review (FRR) was successfully completed on Feb. 22, 2022. The FRR updated the mission status, closed out actions from the Launch Vehicle Readiness Review and Mission Readiness Review, and certified the readiness to proceed with initiation of final launch preparation activities.
A new photo essay highlights the latest operations to prepare GOES-T for launch, including spacecraft encapsulation in its protective fairing, getting the launch vehicle on the stand, and securing the satellite inside its fairing atop the Atlas V rocket. GOES-T is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on March 1, 2022.
NOAA’s GOES-T is scheduled to launch Tuesday, March 1, 20122. The launch, as well as the pre-launch mission and science briefings, and the NASA Edge rollout show, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. At 4:38 p.m. EST on March 1, the two-hour launch window will open, during which GOES-T will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Launch coverage will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST.
On February 17, 2022, GOES-T, secured inside its payload fairing, was transported from its processing location at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. There, the satellite was raised into position atop the Atlas V rocket that will send it into orbit on March 1. View additional photos of the lift and mate operation.
Participate in the GOES-T launch by playing our launch bingo game! Print out the launch bingo cards, watch the GOES-T launch broadcast on NASA TV starting at 4:00 p.m. EST on March 1, 2022, and mark off the words that you hear! Download bingo cards here.
GOES-T will provide critical data for identifying and tracking environmental hazards of particular concern to the western U.S. GOES-T will locate wildfire hot spots, detect changes in fire behavior, predict the motion of fires, estimate a fire’s intensity, and monitor smoke output and air quality effects from smoke. GOES-T can identify the lightning strikes most likely to ignite fires and characterize pyrocumulonimbus clouds that threaten the safety of firefighters.
The GOES-T satellite is now encapsulated the Atlas V fairing. The payload fairing is a specially designed nose cone that, in addition to creating a more aerodynamic profile, encapsulates the satellite, protecting it during the ascent through Earth's atmosphere after launch. GOES-T will soon be moved to Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for mounting atop the Atlas V rocket that will boost the satellite to orbit. Additional photos are available in the GOES-T Road to Launch gallery.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur upper stage was placed atop the Atlas V booster in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) adjacent to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Feb. 7, 2022. The Centaur is the launch vehicle’s “brain,” providing guidance and flight control and containing fuel and oxidizer to insert the vehicle into orbit. Additional photos are available in the GOES-T Road to Launch gallery.
Last month, we challenged kids to draw the GOES-T satellite observing the weather during this time of year where they live. From the hundreds of submissions, we selected 25 to feature.
A cutting-edge new instrument is ready to be installed on NOAA’s GOES-U satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2024. The Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1) instrument was shipped to Lockheed Martin in Waterton, Colorado, after passing its Pre-Shipment Review last month. The team at Lockheed Martin will now begin to install this instrument onto the GOES-U spacecraft. The CCOR-1 will be NOAA’s first-ever solar coronagraph.
Fog and low stratus clouds over airports can create dangerous travel conditions that result in costly delays and disrupted travel plans. The U.S. National Weather Service offices monitor and issue warnings when conditions are favorable for the formation of fog and low-level clouds. These warnings are used by the airlines to anticipate conditions, avoid delays and reroute flights if necessary. Now, the NWS uses a new fog detection software developed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies and NOAA to assist with those warnings. The software uses machine learning techniques with near real-time data from weather satellites like NOAA’s GOES-East and GOES-West to monitor conditions 24/7 and issue potential fog warnings.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has established two new world records for megaflashes of lightning in notorious hotspots in North and South America. Aided by the latest satellite technology from the GOES-R Series Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the WMO recognized the longest distance of a single flash and the greatest duration for a single flash. On April 29, 2020, a mass of severe thunderstorms produced a 477.2-mile-long lightning strike over the southern United States. It stretched from near Houston to southeast Mississippi. The WMO also identified a new world record for the long-lasting lightning flash that lasted for 17.1 seconds over Uruguay and northern Argentina for 17.1 seconds on June 18, 2020. The GLM offers the unique ability to measure lightning flash extent and duration continuously over broad areas.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket that will launch GOES-T into space was placed on its stand in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) adjacent to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Jan. 31, 2022. The Atlas V first stage booster is the backbone of the launch vehicle. It holds the fuel and oxygen tanks that feed the engine for powering the spacecraft into orbit. View additional photos in the GOES-T Road to Launch image gallery.
NOAA’s fleet of advanced satellites are essential for predicting weather and climate, and last year they also helped rescue 330 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, or COSPAS-SARSAT, which uses a network of U.S. and international spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals sent from emergency beacons from aircraft, boats and handheld Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) anywhere in the world. Since its start in 1982, COSPAS-SARSAT has been credited with supporting more than 48,000 rescues worldwide, including more than 9,700 in the United States and its surrounding waters.
On Jan. 15, 2022 an underwater volcano in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga exploded violently in what was likely the largest recorded eruption on Earth in decades. The eruption generated atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms, and tsunami waves that traveled the world and were heard as far away as Alaska. Satellites operated by NOAA and its international partners play a crucial role in detecting volcanic activity, alerting those in harm’s way of an eruption, and monitoring the hazards associated with volcanic eruptions, including volcanic ash and tsunamis.
Experts from NOAA, NASA, United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin and L3Harris will hold a virtual media briefing on February 1, 2022, to preview the upcoming launch and mission of NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of four advanced geostationary weather satellites.
On January 1, 2022, there were numerous reports of sonic booms in southwestern Pennsylvania. GOES-16’s Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) picked up a large flash that wasn’t associated with a thunderstorm. GLM data indicated the source of the mysterious sound to be a bolide, or large meteor exploding in the atmosphere. The GLM onboard GOES-16 and GOES-17 primarily monitors lightning activity. However, it can also detect bolides, and has captured many of these exploding meteors. Loud booms with no visible source can cause a lot of anxiety – especially in populated areas. When GLM is able to quickly confirm the presence of a bolide, it helps calm fears. GLM constantly keeps watch for both lightning and exploding meteor hazards.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for October – December 2021 is now available. Goodbye to 2021, a challenging year, which did not at all deter the GOES-R/GeoXO team. Our team continues to accomplish outstanding things—achievements made even more impressive because of the pandemic. In the last quarter of the year alone, we delivered GOES-T to Florida and began readying it for a March 1 launch, executed a number of ground system and mission operations rehearsals and tests to prepare for the GOES-T launch, got the brand-new CCOR instrument through thermal vacuuming testing, received approval to formally initiate the GeoXO Program and received concurrence on proposed program and project acquisition strategies. We can’t wait to see GOES-T on-orbit and GeoXO fully in Phase A.
On March 1, 2022, the United States will be launching its latest weather satellite, called GOES-T. GOES-T is part of a group of NOAA satellites that keep an eye on Earth’s weather from space. Why do we need these weather satellites? The information they collect is used in many ways! In fact, if you’ve ever checked a weather forecast on a phone, computer or television, you’ve used information collected by one of GOES-T’s satellite sisters.
Challenge: Draw the GOES-T satellite observing the typical weather during this time of year where you live! Is it snowy and cold? Is it sunny and warm? Are there storms or lightning?
Need some inspiration? Check out this video and comic book to learn more about weather satellites like GOES-T!
The art challenge is open through Jan. 31. Selected art submissions will appear online and in social media the first week of February.
With their lofty view from space, NOAA satellites see the awe-inspiring beauty and the sobering destruction Mother Nature creates across our dynamic planet—and 2021 provided an eyeful. NOAA satellites caught monster hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, raging wildfires, erupting volcanoes, and even some celestial displays. Review the Top 10 list.
NOAA is about to launch a new satellite into orbit above Earth, which will be third in the fleet of the agency's latest generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). This is the most advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring system in the Western Hemisphere. GOES-T, which will be renamed GOES-18 once in orbit, is scheduled to launch on March 1, 2022. Following a successful on-orbit checkout of its instruments and systems, GOES-18 will go into operational service as GOES West. In this position, the satellite will provide critical data for the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean.
NOAA satellites monitored a large “kona low” storm system that brought drenching rain, flash flooding, and blizzard conditions to Hawaii. The system moved directly over the islands on Dec. 4, 2021, prompting Hawaii’s governor to declare a state of emergency. A kona low, or kona storm, is a seasonal subtropical cyclone that occurs in Hawaii during the winter months.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially came to a close on Nov. 30 and was the third-busiest Atlantic season on record. This year, a total of 21 named storms formed, seven of which became hurricanes. Of these, four were considered major (Category 3 or above) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. NOAA satellites monitored and tracked all of the storms, providing vital data to safeguard communities. Read more about this season as well as how NOAA’s early forecasts helped safeguard communities.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in the GOES-R Series of advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring satellites, arrived in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 to begin final preparations for launch, which is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022. Watch its journey from Colorado to Florida in the latest installment of our Earth from Orbit video series.
NOAA and NASA are now targeting March 1, 2022, for the launch of GOES-T satellite. The launch was recently scheduled for February 16, 2022. However, shifts in launch dates for missions scheduled ahead of GOES-T prompted NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to coordinate the new date.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in the GOES-R Series of advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring satellites, arrived in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 to begin final preparations for an early 2022 launch. Shipping a satellite is no small feat. GOES-T is the size of a small school bus and weighs over 6,000 pounds! The spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, where GOES-T was built, carefully packed the satellite in a special shipping container that protected its sensitive instruments and functioned as a miniature clean room during transport. GOES-T was then driven to Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, where it hitched a ride aboard a C-5 Super Galaxy aircraft to Kennedy Space Center.
The GOES-T satellite team has spent years building the instruments and spacecraft, integrating all of the satellite’s components, and conducting rigorous testing to make sure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and residing 22,236 miles above Earth. So, it’s time to launch it into space, right? Not quite yet! Learn more about the final steps GOES-T will undergo in preparation for a February 2022 launch.
The urgency of Earth science and climate studies took the spotlight Friday, Nov. 5, as Vice President Kamala Harris visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The vice president received a first-hand look at how the nation’s space program studies climate change and provides crucial information to understand our planet’s changes and their impacts on our lives. The six-decade NOAA-NASA partnership was highlighted during the tour, including a GOES-R Program presentation by system program director Pam Sullivan that emphasized the essential data the satellites provide for accurate and timely forecasts that save lives and help people adapt to climate change. Additional photos of the visit available via the NASA Goddard Flickr page.
On Oct. 28, NOAA’s GOES East satellite observed a strong solar flare with its Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). The flare produced aurora that was visible across parts of the northern U.S. Learn more in this week's Earth from Orbit: Solar Flare Erupts.
In Hurricane Ida, NOAA’s GOES-16 saw more than meets the eye—literally! Two NOAA experts discuss how the satellite’s advanced technology provided critical information about this devastating storm.
NOAA satellites have a boo-tiful view of Earth, 24/7. Sometimes they see some haunting sights, like moon glint or the moon creeping near the edge of Earth. When monitoring hurricanes, GOES satellites have captured eerie imagery that looks skulls in these monster storms. Graveyards are home to ghosts and ghouls, not satellites. But when a GOES satellite reaches its end of life, it’s sent to what’s called a graveyard orbit, out of the way of busier operational orbits. Finally, we ain’t afraid of no GOES-Ts. We’re excited for the upcoming launch of the latest sequel in the GOES-R Series. Happy Halloween from NOAA Satellites!
On October 25, 2021, a phenomenon called an “atmospheric river” dumped heavy rain and mountain snow across the Western U.S. and Canada. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow belts of moisture that move through the atmosphere. They can deliver large amounts of rain, and high-elevation snow. This deluge of rain can help end droughts but also can produce flash flooding and mudslides in some areas. NOAA satellites monitor these rivers in the sky as they make their way over the West Coast.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for July – September 2021 is now available. After successful Pre-Shipment and Operational Readiness Reviews, GOES-T is ready to ship to the Cape and is on track for a Feb. 16, 2022 launch. GOES-U also had a big quarter, completing the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) environmental test program and selecting the launch vehicle, this time a Falcon Heavy. Meanwhile, our GeoXO team completed Key Decision Point A and is preparing for the Milestone 1 review, which will formally initiate the new program. GeoXO also awarded Phase A study contracts for the Sounder instrument, starting us on the path to make hyperspectral sounding operational over the U.S. for the first time and leading to improved forecasting. Another highlight this quarter was the first-ever GOES-R Hackathon, during which teams of college students developed innovative solutions to contemporary environmental issues using GOES-R Series satellite data. The first-place team developed a smart phone app that uses GOES-R data to 3D print images of storms, hurricanes and other natural phenomena.
The GOES-R Program conducted its first-ever hackathon from Sept. 24-26, 2021. During this virtual event, teams of college students collaborated to develop interdisciplinary solutions to contemporary environmental issues using GOES-R Series satellite data. The teams had 48 hours to complete one of five challenges and submit a video presentation. A team of NOAA scientists judged the submissions on creativity and out-of-the-box innovative solutions, feasibility, and thoughtful use of GOES-R products and/or synthesis with external data sources. The first-place team developed an app to allow users to use GOES-R satellite data to 3D print images of storms, hurricanes and other natural phenomena.
As Hurricane Sam churns in the Atlantic Ocean, NOAA satellites are carefully monitoring the powerful Category 4 storm, the strongest of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season to date. Sam formed on Sept. 23 and rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane by Sept. 25. Sam’s rate of intensification was the highest on record that far east in the Atlantic this late in the calendar year. Satellite observations showed convective bursts and the presence of a defined, stable eye during rapid intensification. Significant lightning activity was also seen within the eyewall as Sam rapidly intensified. Despite several fluctuations in intensity, Sam has maintained major hurricane strength since Sept. 25.
NOAA and NASA are now targeting Feb. 16, 2022, for the launch of GOES-T satellite. The launch was previously planned for Jan. 8, 2022. Changes to launch dates in missions scheduled ahead of GOES-T prompted NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to coordinate the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.
September 10 marked the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologists determined this peak date by recording the total number of named storms in the Atlantic basin over the last 100 hurricane seasons and taking an average of when the most storms occur. Around 75% of Atlantic seasons since the beginning of the satellite era in 1966 have had at least one named storm on September 10 and about 50% of seasons have had at least one active hurricane on that date. Tropical activity tends to peak around this time because of warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures and weaker wind shear. NOAA satellites recently monitored several storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season’s peak.
On Sept. 10, 2021, NASA announced that it has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide launch services for the GOES-U satellite. GOES-U is targeted to launch in April 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Over the past week, Hurricane Ida has caused intense flooding and destruction from the Gulf of Mexico to New England, and is blamed for several fatalities. Ida struck Louisiana near Port Fourchon on August 29 as a powerful Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. The storm made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and is tied with 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 for the strongest maximum sustained winds at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane. In just three days, Ida rapidly progressed from a tropical wave to a hurricane. After striking Cuba’s Isle of Youth as a Category 1 hurricane on August 27, Ida headed northward and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane. Ida moved inland and brought heavy rainfall and widespread flooding from the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys into the Central and Southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, bringing record rainfall and deadly flooding to the New York region. NOAA satellites monitored the progression of the storm as it developed and intensified.
As we approach the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, activity in the tropics is ramping up. NOAA satellites are monitoring storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Tropical Storm Fred formed on Aug. 11, 2021 and made landfall on the eastern Florida panhandle on Aug. 16. Tropical Storm Grace developed on Aug. 14 in the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a hurricane on Aug. 18 as it approached Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. And Tropical Storm Henri developed south of Bermuda on Aug. 16. Meanwhile, hurricane Linda churns in the eastern Pacific. As hurricane season heats up, NOAA satellites provide critical data for forecasting and tracking the location, movement and intensity of the storms.
As wildfires continue to rage in North America, and the Dixie Fire became the second largest in California history, fire activity has also spiked across the globe. Thick smoke from the hundreds of wildfires burning in Siberia has reached parts of Mongolia, western Greenland, and, for the first time in recorded history — the North Pole. Hundreds of fires are also raging in Greece, Italy, Algeria and Turkey among one of the worst heat waves in decades. NOAA’s satellites and those from our partners across the globe are providing critical data for detecting and tracking the hundreds of fires that are burning worldwide as well as monitoring reduced visibility and air quality from the smoke produced by the blazes. These observations aid forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders.
Using the GOES-17 Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) in a novel way, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) researchers at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information captured the first-ever images of dynamics in the sun’s elusive middle corona. These SUVI observations reveal how the middle corona influences the solar wind and eruptions from the sun, a finding that could improve space weather forecasting. The study was published in Nature Astronomy on August 2, 2021.
NASA and NOAA are now targeting Jan. 8, 2022, for the launch of the GOES-T satellite. The launch was previously planned for Dec. 7, 2021. NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) coordinated the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for April – June 2021 is now available. It has been an eventful quarter for the GOES-R/GeoXO Program. GOES-T is finishing up testing in preparation for its shipment to the launch site this fall, while critical activities to test communications between the satellite and ground system and rehearse launch procedures continue. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provided critical data for recent severe weather, wildfire, and tropical storm/hurricane events. GeoXO completed its first technical review and is moving forward into the concept and technology development phase of the mission. We issued the RFP for the GeoXO sounder instrument, as well as RFIs for the spacecraft and ocean color and lightning mapping instruments. As we work toward completing the GOES-R mission, we are also full steam ahead on bringing GeoXO to fruition.
Wildfires continue to rage in the western U.S. Some of the fires are so intense, they’re creating their own severe weather. NOAA satellites are monitoring wildfire conditions as well as fire-generated storms. Intense heating by wildfires can generate a smoke-infused thunderstorm or pyrocumulonimbus cloud. These clouds can produce lightning and generate strong winds, making it more difficult to contain the spread of fire. In rare instances, they can even spawn a tornado. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon produced a tornado on July 18, 2021. When wildfires spawn severe weather, dangerous conditions become even worse. NOAA satellites are our eyes in the sky, detecting and monitoring wildfires as well as storms created by the most intense fires.
Lightning is a major hazard. It’s a significant threat to life and property, can ignite wildfires, and impacts travel. Lightning can strike at any time, but it is most common in the summer months. The GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the first instrument of its kind in geostationary orbit, has revolutionized lightning detection. Now, GLM can not only detect current lightning activity, but its data can also help predict the occurrence of lightning in the future. To accomplish this, a sophisticated machine-learning algorithm was trained, using GLM data, to recognize complex patterns in GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) imagery that often precede lightning activity detected by GLM. The new tool can accurately predict lightning up to 60 minutes before the first observation of lightning flashes.
Sunglint from solar panels is often observed in satellite imagery. While an interesting phenomenon to see, there’s actually an important connection between satellite observations and solar energy production. Detailed data about clouds from NOAA satellites can aid solar energy forecasts. Clouds affect the output of solar power generation systems. GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West) monitor what types of clouds are present, how they are distributed in the sky, how much shadow they are creating over solar farms, and where they will move next. This provides valuable information about the variations that can occur in power production over the next few minutes to hours. As demand for solar energy grows, the need for timely, detailed information about solar radiation and cloud cover is essential. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide critical data for harnessing solar energy and efficiently delivering it to consumers.
Wildfire activity amid extreme heat and drought has resulted in smoke blanketing much of the United States and Canada. NOAA satellites are monitoring the fires and their smoke output as well as the effects of the smoke on air quality, visibility, and weather. The satellite data are critical for forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders.
The western U.S. has seen record-breaking high temperatures over the past week as a heat dome, or mass of warm air, blankets the Pacific Northwest. This essentially occurs when a “mountain” or “dome” of warm air rises into the atmosphere, gets pinched off by the jet stream, and blocks new weather systems from moving in. The extreme heat, coupled with a severe drought this spring and summer in the region, has combined to significantly raise the risk of wildfire from both human and natural hazards, such as lightning. As the drought and heat wave stretches on, vegetation in these areas dries out, creating ample fuel for potential wildfires. But how dry is it? Learn how NOAA satellites help monitor fires and fire weather conditions that can lead to increased likelihood of them occurring.
NOAA’s GOES-T will replace GOES-17 in the GOES West position, following a successful launch and checkout period, top NOAA officials announced. The decision to place GOES-T into operational service as soon as possible after launch is a result of the blockage in the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the key instrument on GOES-17.
This past weekend, NOAA satellites closely monitored Tropical Storm Claudette, the third named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Claudette slammed into the Gulf and southeastern coasts of the U.S., causing severe damage in parts of the Deep South. The storm was officially named on June 19 after it organized and strengthened near the town of Houma in southeastern Louisiana. It is the fifth-earliest third-named storm to form in the Atlantic basin since 1950.
Fire weather is heating up across the western United States, exacerbated by an intense heatwave and ongoing severe drought. NOAA satellites are monitoring numerous wildfires and keeping watch on areas primed for ignition. As of June 17, 2021, 33 large fires are currently active, burning more than 400,000 acres in 10 states. NOAA satellites zoomed in on several of the major fires burning in the western U.S, including the Telegraph and Mescal Fires in southeastern Arizona, Pack Creek and Bear Fires in Utah, and the Robertson Draw Fire in Montana. Data from the satellites help forecasters monitor drought conditions, locate hot spots, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, predict a fire’s motion, and monitor smoke and air quality.
NOAA satellites captured actinoform clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean on June 3, 2021. These collections of shallow clouds, organized in a distinctive radial pattern, often appear as leaf-like or reminiscent of wagon wheel spokes. They are commonly observed over open water in the Pacific Ocean, in areas where stratocumulus clouds form. These cloud formations are usually so large that they cannot be seen from below. They were first observed in 1962, by NASA’s TIROS V satellite. It’s not yet clearly understood how these complex clouds organize, and studying these clouds with NOAA’s advanced satellite sensors may lead to important new insights about our atmosphere.
The 2021 hurricane season is officially underway. June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season; the eastern Pacific season began on May 15. 2020’s Atlantic season was the busiest on record with a total of 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes. And NOAA is predicting another above-average Atlantic season for 2021. NOAA satellites provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. As hurricane season gets underway, NOAA satellites are vigilantly watching over the Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane basins.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30.
Severe storms struck Louisiana and Texas on May 17, 2021, producing heavy rain, extensive flooding, damaging winds, large hail, and several tornadoes. Hail the size of baseballs was reported near Girard, Texas, and wind gusts of more than 70 mph downed trees and damaged buildings. Torrential rain fell over parts of eastern Texas and Louisiana, producing widespread flooding. At least four people died amid floodwaters after more than a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles and 10 inches in Baton Rouge. GOES-16’s orbit allows the satellite to keep vigilant watch over a fixed area and capture storms in motion. The ability to monitor clouds and atmospheric conditions in near-real time helps forecasters track rapidly changing weather conditions and give advance warning of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.
On May 8, 2021, NOAA satellites captured von Kármán vortices streaming around Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California. These cloud formations often occur over the ocean when islands disrupt the flow of the wind. This disruption creates spiral patterns in the clouds. The pattern of the cloud swirls depends on the wind intensity. NOAA satellites and those from NASA and our international partners observe this phenomenon all over the world. When von Kármán vortices form, satellites capture them in stunning detail.
Severe storms struck Texas on May 3, 2021. They formed along a dry line, where moist air from the Gulf of Mexico met dry air from the Desert Southwest. The storms generated strong straight-line winds, hail, and tornadoes. A variety of GOES-16 and GOES-17 imagery shows the severity of the storms. When severe weather strikes, GOES keep a watchful eye to help identify intensifying storms and track rapidly changing weather conditions.
On March 3, 2021, engineers completed a successful test deployment of the GOES-T solar array as part of a series of tests to prepare the satellite for a planned December 2021 launch. This critical test verified that the satellite's large, five-panel solar array — which is folded up when the satellite is launched — will properly deploy when GOES-T reaches geostationary orbit. During this test, engineers unfurled the five panels on rails that simulated the zero-gravity environment of space. Once in orbit, the deployed solar panels will form a single solar array wing to power the satellite using energy from the sun.
To celebrate Earth Day, we are sharing stunning views of our beautiful planet, captured by NOAA satellites. Every day, NOAA satellites provide critical information that keeps us informed and helps us stay safe. From our satellites, we see cloud patterns, severe weather, lightning, hurricanes, ice and snow cover, phytoplankton blooms, fires, dust storms, and more. At NOAA, every day is Earth Day.
“This Week in Weather” is now “Earth from Orbit.” We’ve updated the name of our weekly video series to better reflect NOAA satellites’ vast capabilities that extend beyond weather.
On the morning of April 9, 2021, La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent began erupting, spewing ash at least 25,000 feet in the air. The volcano continued to erupt over the next several days, with multiple violent explosions. NOAA satellites captured stunning imagery of the eruptions and provided critical monitoring of the resulting volcanic emissions and ash clouds.
The GOES-R/GEO-XO quarterly newsletter for January – March 2021 is now available. It’s launch year, and our pace and energy are increasing! It’s hard to say what is more remarkable: that in 2021 we are still dealing with the pandemic, or that the pandemic has barely affected our progress. Despite the challenges, the GOES-R/GEO-XO team continues to perform critical work for our nation. GOES-T completed environmental testing and is on track to launch in December. We are moving forward with the GEO-XO Program. We awarded two Phase A Study contracts for the imager and are planning for the Mission Concept Review in June, which will affirm the need for the mission. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provided critical data for recent severe weather, fire, and dust storm events. Our program continues to do a remarkable job of advancing the mission.
On April 3, 2021, NOAA’s GOES-16 and NOAA-20 satellites viewed gravity waves rippling over Western Pennsylvania. Waves form in the atmosphere when air is disturbed, like a stone dropped into a calm pond. The gravity waves seen over Pennsylvania were caused by air being forced upward by hills into a layer of stable air. Gravity causes the air to fall back down, and it begins to oscillate, creating a ripple effect. Learn more about gravity waves in our latest “This Week in Weather” video.
If you’ve ever spent a day at the beach, you’ve probably noticed that the ocean water is constantly moving. Waves cause the ocean to move all day long. And tides cause the ocean to rise and fall twice each day. But what exactly causes high tides and low tides? Learn more in a new video from NOAA SciJinks!
On March 31, 2021, NASA awarded GEO-XO Imager (GXI) Phase A Study contracts to L3Harris Technologies, Inc., and Raytheon Company. These definition-phase study and design development contracts are part of instrument formulation activities for the geostationary satellite mission that will follow GOES-R, GEO-XO. Each company will conduct a one-year study to develop an infrared and visible imaging instrument concept and mature necessary technology. These studies will help define the imager’s potential performance, risks, costs, and development schedule. GEO-XO will be operational in the early 2030s, as the GOES-R mission reaches the end of its lifetime.
From March 17-18, 2021, a severe weather outbreak swept across the Southern U.S. The storms produced damaging winds, large hail, and dozens of tornadoes, including significant EF2 tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. Throughout the event, GOES-16 (GOES East) monitored conditions and tracked the storms in real time. The satellite provided important information on cloud properties, storm structure, and lightning activity within the storms.
NOAA’s GOES-T satellite recently completed a series of rigorous tests to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and orbiting 22,236 miles above Earth. In addition, the mission operations team conducted critical activities to test communications between the satellite and ground system and rehearse launch procedures. GOES-T is on track for a December 2021 launch.
A late-season snowstorm dropped feet of snow in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota from March 13-14, 2021. Record-breaking snowfall was measured in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado. NOAA’s geostationary satellites, GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West), and polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP satellites monitored a low-pressure system in the region and followed its evolution into an historic storm. The satellites allowed scientists to forecast the storm’s path and intensity while providing early warning. They also kept watch throughout the event, monitoring the progression of the storm and resulting snow cover.
From March 7-9, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored numerous fires over the Southern Plains. GOES-16 (GOES East) observed these fires in near-real time. By keeping constant watch over the same area, GOES-16 helps to locate fires, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, and predict its motion. The NOAA-20 satellite captured high-resolution imagery of the fires on March 9. This satellite’s VIIRS instrument has an imager band with high spatial resolution, at 375 meters per pixel, which allows it to detect smaller, lower temperature fires. Together, the satellites monitored both the hot spots and smoke plumes from the fires. Satellites allow for detecting and monitoring a range of fires, providing information about the location, duration, size, temperature, and power output of those fires that would otherwise be unavailable.
On March 1, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored lake-effect clouds flowing over Lake Superior. The satellites captured light snow bands embedded in the clouds. Lake-effect snow occurs when very cold air moves over the warmer waters of a lake. GOES-16 viewed the clouds in motion and tracked convection within them, while NOAA-20 captured the scene in stunning detail when the satellite passed over that afternoon. Specialized GOES-16 imagery distinguished snow/ice (white) from the clouds (yellow). GOES-16 and NOAA-20 work together to provide critical information about clouds for weather forecasts and warnings.
North America is home to several different climate types. That means the continent is also home to a variety of extreme weather events. Although we experience the effects of extreme weather here on Earth’s surface, weather satellites can collect some pretty wild pictures and information about extreme weather from above. Meteorologists use this important information to warn us about extreme weather heading our way. This new article from NOAA SciJinks highlights a few of the most extreme weather events captured over the past few decades by NOAA's GOES satellites.
Just like we experience weather on Earth, there’s weather in space! The Sun may look very constant and quiet from Earth, but it's constantly spewing out a stream of particles called the solar wind. Space weather is activity on the Sun that can affect Earth and interact with our technology. Part of NOAA’s mission is to monitor space weather and provide timely, accurate warnings to help our nation prepare for and minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship. This new video highlights NOAA’s space weather mission, including observations from GOES-16 and GOES-17.
The GOES-R Program, in partnership with the JPSS program, NESDIS, NASA Goddard, and CIRA, debuted a new video series on Feb. 25, 2021, “This Week in Weather,” which will highlight a significant weather or environmental event each week. Our inaugural video, “Tracking Dust in the Wind,” examines a Saharan dust event. From Feb. 17–22, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert as it traveled off the west coast of North Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL), a mass of dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert, can transport dust far away from the Sahara throughout the year. NOAA satellites like the geostationary GOES-16 and GOES-17 and the polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP help forecasters and scientists to continuously monitor the evolution of SAL outbreaks and their effects on the meteorology and climatology of the tropical North Atlantic. NOAA satellites also track aerosols associated with dust storms. Aerosol data from NOAA satellites inform air quality alerts and help air traffic controllers monitor visibility for pilots.
Interested in learning how to process, display, and analyze GOES-R and JPSS satellite data? Join our virtual American Meteorological Society (AMS) short course on March 17 and 18, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Our subject matter experts will show how to use satellite data products to analyze specific environmental scenarios such as severe convection, tropical storms, flooding, fire weather, air quality, and more. Register for the short course here.
For Black History Month, NOAA Satellites sat down with Kevin Fryar, chief of staff at GOES-R, to talk about his formative experiences as an African American in the sciences, along with advice for budding meteorologists of color. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force with over twenty years of experience as a weather decision support specialist, Fryar has also served at both the National Weather Service (NWS) and National Environmental Satellite and Data Information Service (NESDIS/NOAA Satellites) in a variety of roles. Most recently, he has been instrumental in the development of the new GeoXO satellite system (a ground-breaking mission that will advance Earth observations from geostationary orbit), advising on key issues related to disaster preparedness and management. During his interview, Fryar gave an overview of GOES-R’s newest initiative as well as some practical advice on how his military and on-the-job experience made all of the difference in his career.
2020 will be remembered as a time of unprecedented challenges and changes. These circumstances inspired us to push our boundaries and try new things so that we could provide the nation with the most accurate and timely environmental observations with critical expertise. Learn more about our 2020 accomplishments and how our satellites help protect life and property.
Join us in March for a NOAA Live! Virtual Open House and “visit” some of the places where NOAA science happens. Each week, we’ll tour a different NOAA facility through a live webinar and meet the staff that bring NOAA’s mission to life. Our guides will highlight a few cool spots around campus and answer your questions in real time. These free events are geared toward students in grades 2 through 8, and they’re perfect for classrooms and families. Registration is limited so sign up today!
NOAA’s satellite fleet, renowned for being the backbone of weather forecasts, also played a pivotal role in rescuing 304 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2020 through other capabilities that fly on these satellites. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, or COSPAS-SARSAT, which uses a network of U.S. and international spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals sent from emergency beacons from aircraft, boats and handheld Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) anywhere in the world.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for October – December 2020 is now available. 2020 was an unforgettable year – for all the wrong reasons. Besides COVID-19 and social injustice, both of which affected the GOES-R/GeoXO family, last year also brought a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season and a record-smashing western wildfire season. As usual, our team rose to the challenge and delivered the mission. GOES-16 and GOES-17 continue to provide critical data to forecasters and GOES-T is in test preparing for a December launch. We’re also planning for the future beyond GOES-R. We’ve renamed the mission Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) to better reflect the advanced observations of atmosphere and ocean we plan for the GeoXO constellation. We are looking forward to the GeoXO Mission Concept Review in March and formalizing the program.
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