GOES Satellites

GOES is an acronym for the Global Operational Environmental Satellite. The satellites orbit the Earth in geostationary orbit and continuously view the continents, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, central and southern Canada, and the southern ocean. The three-axis body-stabilized design of GOES helps it more easily monitor the Earth’s surface temperatures and listen to vertical thermal structures. The data it provides is critical for short-term forecasting and weather monitoring, and is used by many different types of organizations.

GOES uses the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) as its primary instrument for imaging Earth’s environment. It features four times the resolution, five times the spectral channels, and twice the speed of its predecessor. It also has an Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor (EXIS) for monitoring solar irradiance. The sensors also monitor solar flares, which can impact high-altitude airplanes and satellites, as well as power grids.

The GOES-16 satellite was launched on December 7, 2010. The spacecraft was developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The core module and the propulsion core modules were delivered to Lockheed Martin in March and April 2014, respectively. The system and core modules were mated in September 2014. All environmental and mechanical tests were completed by July 2016, and GOES-16 was then shipped by an Air Force C-5M cargo plane to Astrotech Space Operations’ facility in Titusville, Florida.

After GOES-A, the next five GOES satellites were launched from Cape Canaveral, FL. GOES-A was the first of the spin-stabilized geosynchronous satellites. GOES-2 and GOES-3 followed in 1977 and 1978, and were almost identical in design. GOES-1 through GOES-3 were spin stabilized and carried VISSR, SEM, and DCS. They were all designed to operate for ten years.

GOES and POES both have a long history of image collection. The GOES satellites orbit at about 520 miles above the Earth and complete 14 orbits each day. The imagery they provide is used in weather forecasting throughout the world. The GOES satellites are equipped with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) that provides weather information every 30 seconds. The GOES satellite fleet includes 14 satellites, starting with the TIROS-1 in 1960. The last one, the NOAA-19, was launched in February 2009.

GOES-T is scheduled to launch from Florida’s Space Coast on 1 March 2022. The GOES-T satellite is the third in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) series and is expected to provide weather data for the Western Hemisphere. GOES-T is also expected to collect data on global climate change and forecasts. If weather conditions improve, NASA will attempt a second launch on Tuesday.