The GOES-R Series of Satellites

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) system is a NOAA/NASA weather satellite series. NOAA provides the funding requirements, on-orbit operation and sensor design for GOES, while NASA handles spacecraft procurement, spacecraft and instrument development, launch and payload integration.

Located 35,790 kilometres (22,240 miles) above Earth in a geostationary orbit, the GOES satellites continuously monitor the continental United States, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central America and South America. They can observe clouds, measure the vertical structure of the atmosphere, track hurricanes and tropical cyclones, and provide data on atmospheric phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and fires.

In its current incarnation, GOES includes seven operational satellites: GOES-16, GOES-S, GOES-17, GOES-T, GOES-18, GOES-19 and GOES-20. Each GOES satellite is designated with a letter before it launches, and once it reaches geostationary orbit it is renamed with a number. The GOES-R Series was launched in 2016, and is the most recent series of NOAA weather satellites.

Each GOES satellite is equipped with two instruments, Imager and Sounder, which have flexible scan control to capture a variety of images and measurements at varying frequencies. The Imager has three times more spectral channels and four times more resolution than previous GOES models, while the Sounder has five times more frequency capability than its predecessors. Both can be configured to look at smaller areas of the globe, or to show a full-disk scene of Earth. The GOES-R series also includes the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor, which can detect solar flares that can disrupt communications and navigation systems and affect high altitude aircraft, spacecraft and power grids on Earth.

The GOES-R series of satellites also has the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, which can detect lightning in a broader range of the sky than any other instrument. GLM can also detect lightning-induced currents that can damage power lines and cause outages.

Many sites offer a selection of free GOES imagery, products and animations. This collection of links is curated by Tim Schmit of NOAA/NESDIS/STAR.

All of the GOES satellites can be commanded to modify their normal scan schedule during significant weather or other events. This is done from the Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) at NOAA/NESDIS in Suitland, MD.

There is a graphical depiction of the entire GOES satellite fleet, including its current geostationary positions and their scheduled scans. GOES-16 and the other satellites in the GOES-R series have an auxiliary antenna that can be commanded to rotate to provide different views of Earth.

Several websites feature real-time GOES images. These sites include: