GOES-17 Launches Today


The GOES program is NOAA’s most sophisticated geostationary weather satellite series, built and operated in collaboration with NASA. Since 1975 GOES satellites have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions, solar activity (space weather), and other phenomena that directly affect public safety, property protection and our nation’s economic health and prosperity.

GOES satellites are constantly on the lookout for atmospheric “triggers” that lead to severe thunderstorms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather events. These satellites also monitor the development of snowstorms and track ice fields, as well as provide data for local and regional forecasts.

Each GOES satellite has two primary operational locations: GOES East at 75 degrees West, covering the eastern half of the United States; and GOES West at 135 degrees West, over the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, NOAA maintains an on-orbit spare GOES satellite in the event of an anomaly or failure.

Once a satellite is launched and fully checked out, it is declared to be ready for duty and is assigned an operational location. This new satellite, GOES-17, will be positioned in the GOES-West position after a few weeks to become operational and start providing advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements, real time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.

GOES-17 has six high-tech instruments onboard that will gather a variety of data for meteorologists to use. Its Imager will capture images of Earth in visible and infrared wavelengths. The Sounder will measure atmospheric temperature, moisture, and other information at different heights in the atmosphere, such as vertical air velocity, cloud top temperatures, water vapor distribution, and ozone levels.

The Sounder instrument will be able to detect the presence of water vapor at lower altitudes than previous GOES spacecraft. This allows meteorologists to observe the growth of a storm from the ground up, and issue more precise rainfall estimates for flood warnings. The instrument will also be able to identify the presence of mesoscale convection, which is the movement of individual clouds over a large area.

In addition, the Sounder will collect temperature and moisture data of the ocean surface. This will provide valuable information on the current state of our seas, which is critical to understanding the effects of changing climate.

The Imager and Sounder will deliver their data to a number of networks. This includes a direct satellite link (GRB), a satellite augmentation network (SBN) and terrestrial networks such as CLASS and the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network. GOES-17 will also utilize the new Low Rate Information Transmission (LRIT) service to increase the dissemination of imagery and data to a wider audience than before.