GOES-18 – The Latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

The game of go (, pronounced ‘g’) is played between two opposing players on a 19 x 19 board. Each player has white or black stones which they place on vacant intersections (points) of the board. The object of the game is to surround an opponent’s stone with your own in order to capture it, or force him to resign. There are many different strategies in go, and it is important for students of the game to understand how these strategies work.

The GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) program provides critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanographic, climatic, space weather and solar geophysical data to NOAA/SEC customers. The GOES spacecraft series and the ground system are managed by NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service division.

GOES-18, the latest spacecraft in the GOES-16 series of geostationary operational environmental satellites, is providing meteorologists with striking views of Earth. The GOES-18 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) has three times more spectral channels, four times more resolution, and five times faster scanning than previous GOES instruments. ABI is also able to combine multiple channels of data to produce imagery that approximates what the human eye would see from space, called GeoColor.

A key objective of GOES-18 is to provide near real-time imagery for the NOAA space weather forecasting community, and to detect the presence of threatening space debris in Earth orbit that could disrupt communications systems, affect satellites in higher Earth orbit, or reduce navigational accuracy of high altitude aircraft and power grids on the ground. GOES-18’s Space Environment Monitoring instrument (SEM) is currently providing this capability in real-time by monitoring the near-Earth solar-terrestrial electromagnetic environment and transmitting the information to NOAA/SEC.

A research team led by Professor Hashimoto from Japan’s Kanazawa University used GOES-18 to study Amazon seasonality, an aspect of Earth’s climate that is not well represented in existing models. The Amazon rainforest is covered by clouds most of the year, making it difficult to observe seasonal changes in temperature and moisture from polar-orbiting satellites. GOES-18’s geostationary position, which allows it to monitor the Amazon every 10 minutes for an entire day, allowed researchers to identify patterns that polar-orbiting satellites often miss.

NOAA’s GOES-R program is developing the next generation of geostationary environmental satellites, with improved capabilities for both direct and centralized services. The GOES-R spacecraft series, and its improved ground segment infrastructure, will enable NOAA to meet increasing user demands for lower latency, full hemispheric coverage, and enhanced direct services. The GOES-R program is being funded by NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research with support from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NOAA’s DOC is responsible for setting requirements and approving budgets for the overall GOES-R program, including the GSFC Ground Segment Project procurement. NOAA/SEC manages the design and development of GOES-R’s sensor suite. The GOES-R system is scheduled to enter service in 2021.