GOES is a group of Earth observation satellites, which are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Its primary purpose is to provide near-real-time images of the Earth’s surface to help meteorologists determine the speed of clouds and other atmospheric conditions. These satellites operate in a geostationary orbit, circling the planet once per day. This is the only “sweet spot” where these satellites can maintain a relatively stable position in the Earth’s atmosphere.
GOES’ data products are widely used by the global research community, as well as by commercial and government weather services. They are also distributed through the National Environmental Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and the CLASS, a NOAA web-based data archive. GOES provides data to a variety of operational centers, including NOAA’s Weather Forecast Offices and Weather Forecast Satellites.
GOES-T, a new GOES satellite, will be able to produce more detailed images of the Earth. The satellite will work with GOES-East and GOES-West to monitor the effects of storms and wildfires throughout the western United States and the Pacific Ocean. In addition, GOES-T will include an Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor to measure solar irradiance in the upper atmosphere.
Another component of the GOES satellite program is a Geostationary Lightning Mapper that can detect lightning in cloud layers and help meteorologists develop a storm’s severity. This instrument has a design life of 15 years, and will be on board the GOES-R series. GOES-R satellites will carry six advanced onboard instruments.
A GOES-T instrument has been redesigned to enhance thermal control and improve imaging accuracy. This instrument will also be more reliable than its predecessors. GOES-T is expected to begin generating images in May or June of this year. To increase the reliability of its propulsion system, GOES-T will be installed with a magnetometer that is more accurate than its previous models. However, mission officials declined to publicly comment on whether or not GOES-T will share information with Russia.
As the first satellite in the GOES-R Series, GOES-T is also equipped with a Geostationary Lightning Mapper that will aid in the detection of lightning. GOES-T will provide better-defined images, which are more useful in monitoring and forecasting tornadoes and other severe weather events.
Another important feature of the GOES-R Series is its Advanced Baseline Imager. The instrument features sixteen spectral bands and provides multispectral imaging. Compared to the GOES missions of the past, this increased spectral coverage will provide five times faster temporal resolution. Additionally, GOES-R will provide more accurate imagery and lightning maps, which are essential for storm forecasting and forecasting the potential for tornadoes.
The GOES-R Series includes six instruments: the Advanced Baseline Imager, Geostationary Lightning Mapper, the Advanced Baseline Radar, the Geostationary Weather Satellite, and the Solar Radiometer. Each one has its own purpose, but all are designed to improve the accuracy of meteorological and environmental forecasts.
The new GOES-16 and GOES-17 systems have been in 10-minute flex mode since April of this year. During this flex mode, they will continue to provide scans every five or six minutes. This ten-minute full disk imagery will be critical to NOAA’s National Centers and Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers.