GOES Satellites

goes is a verb that means to “go on a trip” or “move on to a new location”. It can also be used as an adjective, meaning to move from one place to another.

GOES satellites provide continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions throughout North America. These data are analyzed and used for weather forecasts, to track the development of severe weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes, and for other purposes.

The GOES program began in 1975 as a joint effort between NASA and NOAA. The first GOES satellite, called GOES-A, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on October 16, 1975. It was followed by GOES-I in 1977 and GOES-II in 1978.

A GOES satellite is a geostationary satellite. These are orbiting Earth at a speed that matches the earth’s rotation. These satellites stay above the Earth’s surface, hovering above a fixed position and providing constant vigilance for the atmospheric “triggers” for severe weather events.

Since 1975, GOES satellites have provided continuous weather imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). These data products have improved the accuracy of weather forecasts and enhanced the understanding of long-term climate conditions.

They have also aided in search and rescue of people in distress.

GOES satellites are designed to operate in geostationary orbit, which is 35,790 km above the Earth’s surface. This is a very high altitude, allowing the GOES sensors to continuously observe the western United States, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central America, and southern Canada.

In addition to transmitting visible light, GOES satellites detect two different types of electromagnetic radiation — thermal infrared (TIIR) and solar ultraviolet (SUVI). This radiation is sent back to Earth and can be detected by a special instrument on board the GOES spacecraft.

This radiation is actually heat, or more specifically the energy released from atoms when they are moving around. The TIIR wavelengths are longer than the visible light wavelengths and cannot be seen by the human eye.

During the daytime, GOES-R bands 1 and 2 are used for air temperature estimation and tropopause monitoring. GOES-R bands 3 and 4 are used for cloud observations, such as cloud top height and cloud drift.

The GOES-R series has been developed to monitor and observe environmental phenomena that directly affect the health of our nation’s citizens. These instruments will increase the accuracy and reliability of our weather forecasts, improve search and rescue operations, and enhance public safety.

It is important to note that the GOES-R series is a new generation of weather satellites. These satellites will provide images of weather patterns and severe storms more frequently than the current GOES system, contributing to more accurate and reliable weather forecasts and severe storm outlooks.

Currently, the GOES constellation consists of two satellites, GOES-13 in the eastern part and GOES-15 in the west. The GOES-R satellites will maintain the two-satellite system but will shift their positions, positioned 75 degrees west longitude and 137 degrees west longitude.