GOES provides advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere. It also tracks lightning, monitors space weather, and serves as an aid in predicting hazardous weather conditions.
Founded in 1974, the GOES series of satellites have become a vital part of NOAA’s observation and forecasting system. GOES-1 was the first of these satellites and used a visible/infrared spin-stabilized sensor to provide day and night observations of atmospheric conditions. It was one of NOAA’s most important satellites, providing critical information for meteorologists to make timely forecasts for severe storms, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other events.
The GOES satellites orbit in geosynchronous orbit, matching the speed of the Earth’s rotation around its equator. This allows the satellite to remain stationary in the sky above a point on the Earth’s surface, and the GOES-R series of satellites are expected to have an operational lifespan of seven years.
Each GOES satellite is equipped with two primary instruments: the Imager and Sounder. The Imager detects the visible and near-infrared radiation (radio energy) that is reflected off of the surface of the Earth and its atmosphere, and the Sounder provides real-time data on vertical atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles and ozone distribution. The satellites are also equipped with the X-ray Imager and the Space Environment Monitoring instrument (SEM) on some models of the satellites, which help NOAA meteorologists and other scientists understand the complex interaction between the Sun and its effects on our planet’s environment.
In addition to its observing capabilities, GOES-16 will be the first in the GOES-R series of satellites to be equipped with the Enhanced Visible and Infrared Sensor (EVIS). This new sensor will provide improved spatial resolution and faster temporal cadence for a variety of applications. For example, the EVIS will be able to track rapidly changing phenomena such as volcanic ash plumes much more quickly than previously possible. This improved capability will improve aviation safety by giving the National Weather Service’s forecast offices and Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers better insight into a potentially dangerous situation before airplanes encounter it.
The GOES-R series of satellites is operated by NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. After the completion of on-orbit checkout, NOAA takes responsibility for command and control and data receipt/distribution. The GOES-R series of satellites includes the GOES-East and GOES-West spacecraft, which operate in geostationary orbit and cover North and South America. Each GOES-R satellite also includes the Advanced Baseline Imager, Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors, and Space Environment In-Situ Suite instruments. The Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station on Wallops Island, Virginia serves as the primary telemetry, tracking, and command point for GOES-16.