GOES-R Satellites Support Weather Forecasting and Severe Storm Tracking

Go is a strategy game played between two players with black and white stones. The aim of the game is to capture the opponent’s stones, either by surrounding them or by blocking them in some way. The game was invented in China some 2500 years ago, and was introduced to Japan in the 6th century by Chinese immigrants. Since then it has become an integral part of the Japanese culture, and is one of the most widely played board games in the world.

The GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) series of satellites, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service division, support weather forecasting and severe storm tracking in the United States. Scientific researchers and other agencies worldwide use GOES data to better understand land, atmosphere, ocean and climate dynamics.

Launched in 2016, GOES-R (or GOES-16 as it’s commonly referred to) is the first of four in the Lockheed Martin-built GOES-R series of geostationary satellites. The GOES-R satellites feature an Advanced Baseline Imager, which views Earth with three times more spectral channels than the current GOES imager, as well as a Solar Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor that monitors solar flares and other space phenomena that can interfere with communications systems, high altitude aircraft and power grids on Earth.

GOES-R satellites also feature a Geostationary Lightning Mapper, which monitors lightning activity in the United States and Canada, and a Wind Vector Inverse Spacecraft and Atmospheric Radiation Sounder, which measure winds in the upper atmosphere and provide important information about the movement of air masses. GOES-R satellites also carry the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, which has helped to locate thousands of people in need since its inception in 1974.

The GOES-R satellites are controlled from NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. When significant events occur, the normal satellite schedule can be altered to provide specialized coverage requested by the National Weather Service. The GOES-R spacecrafts also enhance NOAA’s atmospheric science research and numerical weather prediction models.

The GOES-R satellites are designed, built and operated by NOAA’s Space Environment Monitoring program. The satellites are maintained by NASA’s Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station in Virginia. The satellites communicate with Earth via the NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Ground System, which transmits the data to the GOES-R satellites. Those satellites then relay that information to the National Weather Service and other agencies in the United States and abroad, including the Meteorological Service of Canada. The GOES-R system is a key element of NOAA’s Weather Service, and helps to protect lives and property from the hazards of severe weather and wildfires.