GOES Satellites


The GOES satellites provide data vital for weather monitoring and short-term weather forecasting. GOES data products are accessed by the National Weather Service, commercial weather services, universities, the Department of Defense, and the research community worldwide. These images provide detailed information about the Earth’s climate and weather conditions. In addition, the GOES satellites provide a real-time view of severe local storms and tropical cyclones.

The GOES satellites are owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is responsible for designing and launching the spacecraft. After the satellites are launched, the NOAA takes over responsibility of their operations. Several nations also operate geostationary satellites.

GOES has two types of satellites, GOES East and GOES West. Both GOES satellites have regular schedules for scanning Earth. GOES East monitors the United States and adjoining oceans. GOES West monitors a much larger area and includes Alaska. The GOES East and West satellites have similar maps, but the GOES West satellites scan different areas based on the severity of weather.

GOES images are based on visible light reflected off clouds and the Earth’s surface. This reflected light provides meteorologists with the ability to identify the type of cloud, track its movement, and provide early warning of severe weather. GOES images can also give meteorologists information about the Earth’s surface when clouds are not covered.

The first GOES satellite was launched in 1975 and became operational in 1979. Its successor, GOES-A, was launched in 1976 and was renamed GOES-I. The next two satellites, GOES-II and GOES-III, were launched in 1977 and 1978, respectively. The GOES satellites were similar to the SMS satellites in their design and construction, and were spin stabilized. These satellites carried various instruments, such as the VISSR, SEM, and DCS.

The GOES-T satellite was launched on March 1. It was renamed GOES-18 once it reached geostationary orbit on March 1, 2018. GOES-T provides information that will improve space weather forecasting and track wildfires. GOES-T also provides information needed for severe weather warnings.

GOES satellites are the most advanced weather satellites developed to date. They orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth and stay over the same location as the Earth rotates. GOES satellites are capable of taking pictures every 30 seconds. This will make them especially useful when severe weather is developing rapidly. In fact, GOES satellites have been the key to accurate weather forecasts for decades.