The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite System (GOES)

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system provides continuous observational data for weather forecasting, severe storm tracking and meteorology research. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) operates the spacecraft and ground systems.

The GOES system has been in operation for 40 years and continues to advance with the latest technological innovations. It is the first satellite system ever to produce a full-disk image of Earth every 10 minutes during the day and night, covering an area from 20o W longitude to 165o W longitude.

GOES satellites use advanced sensors to monitor the environment and measure meteorological conditions, such as cloud cover, atmospheric stability and winds, fog distribution, and storm circulation. They also detect and monitor solar activity.

In addition to the main Imager and Sounder instruments, GOES spacecraft are equipped with a number of additional sensors that provide valuable observations not available on other NOAA satellites. These include the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), which provides a much higher resolution than previous GOES satellites, with three times more spectral channels and four times faster scanning. The Sounder instrument has a number of improvements as well, such as enhanced radiation measurements.

Another significant capability of the GOES system is its ability to receive environmental data transmissions from remote automatic data collection platforms (DCPs). These stations are typically located at or near the surface of the Earth, and can send a variety of weather-related data such as wind speed, air temperature, pressure and humidity. The GOES satellites’ DCS (Data Collection System) onboard relays these data transmissions to small, ground-based regional weather centers via a narrow-band radio communications link.

The GOES series of satellites is monitored and controlled from NOAA’s SOCC (Satellite Operations Control Center) in Suitland, Maryland. Once the satellites have completed on-orbit checkout, NOAA takes over command and control and data reception functions. The NESDIS GOES Satellite Ground System, which consists of RF front-end equipment and DCS computer system called DAPS (GOES DCS Automatic Processing System), supports the interface to the GOES satellites. The GOES DAPS is capable of supporting both self-timed and random reporting DCPs. Self-timed DCPs have a pre-programmed self-timer, and report their sensor measurements at specific intervals to the GOES DCS. Randomly-reporting DCPs are activated when a certain environmental condition is met or exceeds a pre-set threshold.