The GOES Satellite and Its Importance to Weather Forecasting


The GOES satellite is an advanced, three-axis body-stabilized instrument that continually observes the Earth from space. It provides continuous monitoring of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, as well as central and southern North and South America. With the help of GOES, scientists can more effectively monitor the Earth’s temperature, detect clouds and sound for vertical thermal structures. This technology helps predict extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones.

Infrared radiation is emitted from clouds and water vapor in the atmosphere. While some water vapor is extremely high in the atmosphere, most thermal infrared radiation can be detected by GOES satellites. Using GOES imagery is an effective way to monitor the weather and forecast severe weather events. However, GOES is not perfect. Its images are not always reliable, and sometimes it is not possible to determine a particular location because clouds are constantly moving.

GOES satellites have a regular schedule to monitor the Earth’s surface. Two GOES satellites, GOES East and GOES West, are fixed at specific points over the Earth’s surface. This gives a detailed view of the United States and adjoining oceans. GOES East monitors the eastern U.S., while GOES West monitors the western U.S., including Alaska. The images from these satellites are used to predict severe weather and predict floods.

The GOES satellites transmit data to the ground through the National Environmental Satellite and Information Service. Over twenty DCPs are distributed throughout the western hemisphere. Each DCP has a recorder, antenna and an array of environmental sensors. These instruments are programmed to collect data from GOES satellites and to transmit that data on a designated GOES channel. They are used by weather forecasters all over the world. So, GOES is essential to the monitoring and forecasting of weather events.

GOES satellites are a major element of U.S. weather monitoring since 1974. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) oversees the procurement, design, and manufacture of GOES satellites. The GOES satellites can be accessed through SPEDAS software and other specialized programs. These systems provide valuable data on the Earth’s climate and weather. You can find weather information about a particular region in real time using GOES satellite data.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) satellite program is a joint effort of NASA and NOAA. The satellites are designed to continuously observe Earth’s atmosphere and weather conditions. They orbit high enough to provide a full-disc view of Earth’s surface. GOES satellites provide a constant vigil for atmospheric triggers that lead to severe weather. They monitor the development of storms, track their movement, and provide data about the Earth’s climate.

After the launch of the first GOES satellite, GOES-A, the third GOES satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL. GOES-A was renamed GOES-I after reaching its orbit in 1976. The next two GOES satellites were launched in 1978 and 1979, respectively. The design of GOES-1 through GOES-3 satellites was nearly identical to the SMS satellites. They were spin stabilized and carried instruments including VISSR, SEM, and DCS.