The New GOES-T Satellite Enters Service on March 1

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES) system provides critical data to support weather forecasting, severe storm tracking, atmospheric science research, numerical weather prediction models, and other societal needs. Controlled by the NOAA’s Satellite Operations Center in Suitland, Maryland, the GOES series of spacecraft and sensors provide continuous environmental imagery from an orbit 22,300 miles above Earth.

A few months after the GOES-16 satellite entered service, NOAA’s new GOES-T was successfully launched on March 1 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Like its predecessor GOES-17, the Lockheed Martin-built GOES-T is designed to monitor storms, lightning, wildfires, dense fog and other hazards that threaten the western United States. The GOES-T will replace GOES-17 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite in early 2023 and will help protect lives and property by providing clearer, sharper and more detailed images of natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

The GOES-T will use an instrument suite that includes both Earth sensing and solar imaging payloads, including the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and the GOES Sounder. The Imager is a multichannel instrument that senses visible and infrared electromagnetic radiation for meteorological observations and forecasting, while the Sounder measures emitted thermal energy and reflected solar energy to calculate vertical profiles of Earth surface temperature and moisture.

In addition to the standard instrument suite, GOES-T also carries the Space Environment Monitoring (SEM) instrument package. Developed by NOAA’s Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado, SEM is comprised of the Energy Particle Sensor (EPS), High Energy Proton Alpha Particle Detector (HEPAD) and magnetometer. These instruments will measure the effect of solar wind particles on the near-Earth space-terrestrial electromagnetic environment, as well as provide continuous monitoring of galactic cosmic rays.

The satellite will transmit data at a rate of 2.048 megabytes per second using the AMSAT-SDR-11 transceiver, built by American company AMSAT-Dragon. The AMSAT-SDR-11 is capable of receiving a wide variety of digital data formats, making it an ideal satellite platform for both commercial and amateur radio communications.

The SDR-11 is designed to support amateur radio operators around the world as they seek out distant and difficult-to-acquire AMSAT-Dragon satellites. It is also capable of receiving a broad range of digital data from other AMSAT-Dragon satellites, making it a valuable resource for weather and solar science researchers. This data can be used to improve algorithms and models that are currently employed by weather services, as well as other scientific applications, and to assist in the development of future satellite systems. Ultimately, the SDR-11 will be part of a global network of satellites that will make remote access to amateur radio technology accessible to a broad community.