Since 1975, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions, solar activity and space weather that have led to better and more accurate weather forecasts and have helped in search and rescue missions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) builds, launches and operates the GOES series.
The GOES-R series provides advanced imaging of Earth’s western half and real-time mapping of lightning strikes, as well as improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather. The GOES-R satellites orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator, staying over a specific geographic region for long periods of time to provide continuous coverage.
GOES-R satellites have two main payload instruments, the Imager and the Sounder. The Imager and Sounder are flexible-scan imaging systems that collect information about the atmosphere, including cloud cover, wind speed, temperature, moisture and ozone. The Imager has three times more spectral channels and five times more scanning resolution than previous GOES satellites, and the Sounder is able to detect small particles of water vapor in the atmosphere. The Imager also includes a solar X-ray sensor to detect sunspots and other sun activity that can disrupt communications, cause aurorae or affect the navigation systems of satellites, high altitude aircraft and power grids on Earth.
In addition to the Imager and Sounder, GOES-R satellites carry the Solar Environmental Monitor (SEM) instrument package operated by NOAA/Space Environment Center (SEC). The SEM instrument suite measures the effect of the Sun on the near-Earth solar-terrestrial electromagnetic environment, providing NOAA/SEC with real-time data. The GOES-R series also includes the new GOES-16 SUVI, which will provide the same level of high-resolution RGB images as previous GOES satellites but with three times the number of spectral bands and five times more scanning capability.
The GOES-R satellites and their sensors were developed by NOAA, NASA and many industry partners in the United States, Canada and Japan. The development, design and procurement of GOES satellites are overseen by NOAA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. GOES data is available to anyone through NOAA’s NEXRAD and SATVIEW web portals, as well as from the GEONETCast Americas and GEONETCast Global websites. In addition, GOES-R image data can be downloaded from the OCC Environmental Data Commons.