The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program (GOES) is a satellite constellation of geosynchronous equatorial orbiting weather and space weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since their initial launch in 1975, GOES have helped meteorologists better understand atmospheric conditions and solar activity, leading to more accurate forecasts and a better understanding of long-term climate conditions.
The GOES system has been in operation since the launch of SMS-1 on October 16, 1975, and has grown to include three current series: GOES-N, GOES-R, and GOES-U. The Lockheed Martin-built GOES-R series has extended the operational life of the GOES fleet to 2036.
GOES-16 is a geosynchronous operational environmental satellite that was launched on March 11, 2014, by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its design, construction and testing was a joint effort between NASA and Lockheed Martin.
It is part of a larger GOES-R satellite program that includes GOES-16, GOES-17 (GOES-R/S) and GOES-T that will provide continuous operational support for NOAA through December 2036.
Unlike its predecessors, the GOES-16 satellite is designed to operate in geostationary orbit at an altitude of 35,790 km (22,240 mi). This is higher than any other current weather satellite and offers a more detailed view of the United States, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and parts of the Caribbean Sea.
This spacecraft is equipped with six instruments that observe the Earth and sun at a variety of wavelengths, including visible and infrared light. The most important is the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) which produces images at 16 different wavelengths and provides a full range of Earth-viewing capabilities.
The ABI is used for air temperature estimation, cloud top height and cloud drift observations, as well as supplementing Advanced Synoptic (ASOS) observation data. The instrument also monitors the atmosphere for changes in water vapour and cloudiness.
Other instruments on GOES-16 include the geostationary lightning mapper, a space environment in-situ suite (SEISS) and the solar ultraviolet imager (SUVI). The SEISS is a multi-channel sensor that monitors proton, electron, and heavy ion fluxes from the magnetosphere.
In addition, GOES-16 is equipped with a Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI), which enables high-cadence monitoring of large solar structures to support the Space Environment Services Center’s (SESC) mission. This capability was critical during hurricanes Hugo (1989) and Andrew (1992).
GOES-16 is the third of four satellites in the Lockheed Martin-built GOES-R (GOES-R/S) series that extends the lifetime of the GOES fleet to 2036. The four satellites were built to the same specifications as the GOES-17 and GOES-16 satellites and will be manufactured at the Lockheed Martin facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
GOES is a space weather service that provides information to the military and commercial radio wave and satellite communications systems, electric power networks, high-altitude aviators, and scientific researchers. It also provides alerts and forecasts for solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and other spaceweather events. The GOES-R satellites will continue to provide this vital service and also support the search and rescue missions of NOAA and other agencies throughout the world.