The New GOES-R Series of Earth Sensing Satellites

GOES provides critical atmospheric, hydrologic and oceanographic environmental data that directly affect public safety, the protection of property, and the Nation’s economic health. GOES is NOAA’s most advanced series of geostationary operational environmental satellites, with a broad suite of Earth sensing instruments that provide real-time imagery and information about such things as severe weather events (including thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes), lightning activity, solar activity and space weather.

The GOES-R Series of satellites will offer new capability, including enhanced images and improved data products, as well as a faster temporal cadence for some instruments. The ability to produce 10 minute full disk imagery will support NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) local offices and regional centers, and other agencies such as Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers that monitor ash clouds associated with volcanic eruptions. The increased temporal resolution will also enhance aviation safety by providing a more timely response to changes in conditions such as ash plumes that could pose hazards to airplanes.

GOES-R satellites will fly in two distinct groups, one monitoring North and South America and the other monitoring the Atlantic and Pacific ocean basins. Each of these satellites will be positioned in a geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above the Earth’s equator.

For many meteorologists the GOES-R Series is an exciting development. The satellites will carry a number of new instruments, including the newest version of NOAA’s SEM (Space Environment Monitor) instrument package. SEM has the capability to monitor the Sun’s explosion atmosphere in near real-time, helping NOAA/SEC to issue warnings when solar flares could affect aircraft and ground-based assets.

These new instruments and enhancements will allow GOES to deliver a more complete picture of the atmosphere around the clock and at all latitudes. The data will help improve forecasting for the onset and evolution of severe weather events such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and will detect and monitor hazardous conditions like fog, aerosols, dust storms, volcanic ash plumes, and wildfires.

The GOES-R program is a NOAA/NASA joint venture. NOAA sets requirements and funding for the program and operates the satellite system once in orbit, and NASA under contract manages spacecraft design and development and its sensor complement. The program is based at NOAA’s co-located GSFC/GOES and SSAC/GOES/SEC offices in Greenbelt, Maryland.