A Career in Information Technology

Information technology, or IT, refers to the computer systems, hardware, software, and networks that support a business’s processes. Organizational units that handle these tools and components are often called IT departments. A career in IT can focus on a specific aspect of the field, such as network administration or software engineering, or may span the full spectrum of IT functions.

The GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) series of satellites has been in operation since the launch of SMS-1 in 1974. The GOES satellites orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator and provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements over the Western Hemisphere. The satellites are operated and managed by NOAA’s SOCC (Satellite Operations Control Center), NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service) in Suitland, Maryland.

GOES satellites monitor weather phenomena such as clouds, precipitation and lightning, and track solar activity and space weather hazards. In addition, the satellites transmit specialized meteorological, hydrologic, oceanographic and solar-geophysical products directly to NOAA regional centers, national weather forecast offices, and other users.

A key piece of GOES equipment is the Imager, which provides real-time Earth images and radar data. The Imager uses multichannel instruments to sense reflected solar energy, including visible and infrared wavelengths, to provide images of the surface of the Earth and its clouds. It also measures the vertical variation of temperature and moisture content in the atmosphere, which is vital for predicting weather conditions such as storms, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Another crucial element of a GOES satellite is the Sounder, which transmits atmospheric temperature and moisture data to the SESC. The Sounder measures the distribution of atmospheric temperatures and moisture over the surface of the Earth and its cloud cover, as well as surface and upper-level winds. The Sounder instruments have redundancy, so the entire system can operate even in the event of a sensor malfunction or loss of power.

In addition to traditional meteorological products, the GOES-R series of satellites will provide geostationary views of lightning activity at a faster cadence than previous generations of GOES instruments. The GOES-R series will feature the first Geostationary Lightning Mapper, which will track total lightning activity across the Western Hemisphere with a uniform storm-scale spatial resolution of 8 km.

The GOES-R series will also include the first GOES-R satellites to carry a coronagraph, an instrument that tracks the Sun’s outer corona and can detect solar flares that can damage spacecraft and satellites. This will allow NOAA forecasters to quickly warn about dangerous solar activity, which is especially important during periods of high sunspot intensity.