GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) is an environmental service satellite that monitors the Earth’s weather. GOES is operated by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
The GOES program includes a family of satellites designed to operate in a geostationary orbit 35,800 kilometers above the Earth. These geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) observe large sectors of the Earth’s surface and provide continuous monitoring for atmospheric conditions that trigger severe weather.
Using advanced three-axis stabilization and separate optics for imaging and sounding, the GOES satellites can continuously monitor a larger area of Earth than previous generations of GOES. This capability makes them a critical part of the National Weather Service’s forecasting and warning operations.
Imagery from GOES is available at various times of the day and on a variety of channels. In addition to the traditional red, green and blue bands for visible light imaging, GOES satellites also include bands that measure the temperature of the air and the position of the tropopause (the boundary between the atmosphere and the space surrounding it).
Visible Light Images
These images are created by measuring the amount of radiation emitted by cloud tops and Earth’s surface and reflected back up to the satellite. The reflected sunlight allows meteorologists to identify cloud type, track cloud movement and help predict where severe weather might develop. Snow, ice and light-colored sand reflect the least amount of radiation and are therefore less likely to appear on GOES imagery.
GOES also tracks infrared radiation that is emitted from water vapor and clouds, which are not visible on the ground but can be detected by a GOES infrared imaging sensor. These images are available at any time of the day or night, and can be used to determine the location of rain, snow, ice, or other hazardous weather events.
The GOES satellites are part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Observing System, which uses data from numerous instruments to monitor the planet. These include land, marine, and atmospheric sensors that measure temperatures, wind speed, humidity, and other factors to create more accurate forecasts of weather patterns.
This information is shared with the public through the NOAA National Weather Service’s Weather Services Web site, as well as by other national and international organizations. Users are encouraged to visit the Web site and learn more about GOES, as well as how GOES and other NOAA and NASA satellites provide critical weather data.
The latest generation of GOES-R satellites includes an enhanced imager that scans the Earth five times faster and four times more frequently than earlier GOES. This new technology provides images of weather patterns, hurricanes and severe storms as often as every 30 seconds. This increased resolution and frequency will help meteorologists to better forecast weather, identify storm locations, and increase the accuracy of severe weather warnings.
The GOES-R Series also features the Naval Research Laboratory’s Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1) on board to provide hyperspectral infrared imager capability for monitoring potential turbulence in the atmosphere. This feature will assist forecasters with tracking and monitoring storms that may become dangerous as they move across the United States and its territories.