GOES-R – The Next Generation of Weather Satellites


GOES is a series of geostationary weather satellites operated by NOAA to monitor Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and environment. GOES is a key component of the National Weather Service’s forecasting operations. GOES provides weather and climate information to the public, and a variety of industries including electric power networks, air transport and aviation, and marine navigation.

Currently there are two operational GOES satellites, GOES-13 (GoES-East) and GOES-15 (GoES-West). The next generation of GOES-R weather satellites will launch in 2023, replacing the current GOES-13 and GOES-15 satellites.

The new GOES-R satellites are a major upgrade to the existing GOES weather and climate monitoring system, providing improved weather forecasts and enhanced data products. They include the GOES-R advanced baseline imager (ABI) and the GOES lightning mapper.

As a result of the enhanced capability, forecasters can make better and more timely predictions than they could in the past. For example, the ABI will allow forecasters to more accurately predict thunderstorms. It will also help forecasters track hurricanes and tropical storms that form in the Gulf of Mexico.

ABI will also provide more accurate and detailed information about sea surface temperature and cloud cover. These measurements will help forecasters understand the effect of warmer sea surface temperatures on marine life, including plankton and zooplankton.

GOES-R has six advanced onboard instruments for imaging and measuring the weather, atmosphere and oceans. The ABI is the primary instrument that produces images at 16 different spectral bands, covering two visible channels, four near-infrared channels and ten infrared channels.

In addition, the GOES-R spacecraft contains a solar X-Ray Imager (SXI) and an SEM. The SXI and SEM are important for the Space Environment Services Center’s mission, which is to provide weather data and alerts for special solar events such as solar flares and magnetic storms.

The SXI has a multi-band imaging array that captures a wide range of solar-terrestrial information and sends it to the SESC. It is the primary source of solar-terrestrial data used by the SESC and other governmental agencies in the United States.

This information is also critical to military and civilian radio wave, satellite communication, and electric power networks, as well as the missions of Space Station astronauts, high-altitude aviators and scientists.

GOES has a long history of image collection, dating back to the 1970s. In a single day, GOES completes almost 14 orbits around the Earth.

On a regular basis, GOES satellites are able to collect images of the entire planet’s surface. These images are usually called full disk imagery and can be used to detect weather patterns, such as low pressure systems or severe storms. The satellites also use white outlines of landmasses to help the user pinpoint areas affected by weather.

The GOES satellites have been in operation since the mid-1970s and are managed by NOAA. As part of the agency’s mission to support the needs of the nation, NOAA operates the GOES satellites and also manages their launch. The GOES satellites are designed to operate in a geostationary orbit 35,790 kilometers above the Earth.