The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) is an atmospheric monitoring and forecasting system that uses geosynchronous equatorial satellites. These orbiters provide continuous weather imagery. They also monitor the Earth’s surface temperature and track storms. GOES data is distributed to a variety of research institutions and commercial weather services. It is used by the National Weather Service, the Department of Defense, and other groups.
GOES spacecraft are controlled from the Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. This facility is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA is the primary researcher and developer of GOES. As a result, the design and specifications for GOES spacecraft are overseen by the agency.
GOES imagery is produced by the Imager and Sounder instruments. In addition to observing the surface of the Earth, these instruments measure the intensity and distribution of the Earth’s ozone layer. Both the Imager and Sounder also provide vertical profiles of the air’s temperature.
GOES data is distributed to various research institutes and universities. It is also used by the National Weather Service for short-term forecasting. Data from the GOES satellites is used by scientists to improve numerical weather prediction models. Additionally, GOES images are used for determining the speed of clouds. During daylight hours, only visible light images are provided. However, GOES also provides thermal infrared data, which are used to determine the properties of the Earth’s cloud tops. Thermal infrared radiation is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, which is comprised of oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor.
GOES-R series satellites are built by Space Systems/Loral under a contract with NASA. They include the Advanced Baseline Imager, which provides multi-band images. Other sensors include the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors. GOES-R series instruments can also detect lightning in clouds. Some GOES-R satellites can also provide lightning maps, which can be used to help forecast storm severity.
The Space Environment In-Situ Suite is included on all GOES-R series satellites. The suite allows for faster temporal coverage and better temporal resolution, which will improve aviation safety. All GOES-R series satellites carry a magnetometer, which is a device that can provide accurate measurements of magnetic fields.
The next GOES-R series will launch in March of 2022. This new generation of spacecraft will be able to gather more information about the Earth. Compared to the current GOES missions, the new satellites will have four times the spatial resolution and five times the temporal coverage. Moreover, the spacecraft will have a more stable magnetometer, which will increase accuracy.
GOES West provides a much better view of the western United States and Canada, including Alaska and the Pacific Ocean. GOES East provides a reasonably clear view of North America, although it does not cover the western states.
The new GOES spacecraft will also be able to more frequently scan cloudy areas. Clouds are a major source of thermal infrared radiation, which is also known as heat. Unlike sunlight, which reflects off of the surface of the Earth, thermal infrared radiates from everything on the Earth. Water vapor in the atmosphere is another major source.