GOES-R Satellites Will Measure Earth’s Radiative Energy at Moderate Resolutions

The GOES-R series of satellites will be equipped with state-of-the-art multichannel instruments that measure Earth’s radiant and reflected solar energy at moderate spatial and temporal resolutions, with high radiometric resolution. The primary payload instruments are the Imager and Sounder. The Imager will sense the visible and infrared spectral energy from Earth’s surface, atmosphere, clouds and water vapor; and the Sounder will measure atmospheric vertical velocity, surface and cloud top temperature and moisture profiles, as well as ozone distribution.

GOES-R will have the capability to deliver near real time 1-min imagery via super rapid scan operations, and will also provide additional derived products, such as cloud analysis, atmospheric motion vectors, surface wind speed and direction, precipitation, and atmospheric radiation. The Imager’s performance is expected to be superior to the current GOES imagers, with up to 4-16 times finer spatial resolution in some bands, and up to 5 times greater signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and radiometric resolution.

In addition to improved spectral, spatial and temporal resolution, the ABI will have a new onboard solar diffuser to improve the instrument’s calibration and performance in the visible and near-infrared wavelengths. It will also be able to use the spacecraft’s blackbody and star observations for its radiometric calibration and navigation functions, reducing its dependence on ground-based ancillary data.

The ABI’s 16 spectral bands will be based on a combination of silicon (Si) and mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) detectors, allowing for different sensitivity in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. Each band will have a dedicated IR-weighting function, which will allow for improved characterization of the thermal structure of the atmosphere and more accurate modeling of the effects of aerosols on IR radiance. The ABI will also have a much higher frame rate than the current GOES imagers, enabling faster updates of the visible and near-IR bands.

The GOES-R satellites will be positioned at the GOES West and East operational locations, with the ability to shift to the mesoscale sector positions when needed for tracking severe weather events or to provide surveillance of the nation’s natural resources. Unlike the current generation of GOES satellites, which are operated on a predetermined schedule and have limited flexibility in their coverage, GOES-R will be capable of being commanded at short notice to support operational weather forecasting, scientific research, numerical weather prediction model development, and environmental sensor design/development. It will also serve as a platform for other National Science Foundation-supported missions, including solar system exploration. The GOES-R fleet will be controlled from the NASA Center for Satellite Operations Control in Suitland, Maryland.