GOES-13 Steps Away


After more than seven years of service as NOAA’s official GOES East satellite, GOES-13 stepped aside last Monday (January 8) to let its younger successor GOES-16 take the lead. It’s now in an on-orbit storage location where it will stay until needed again as a backup satellite.

GOES, short for Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellites, uses geosynchronous equatorial satellites to monitor and observe Earth from a fixed location in space. These satellites orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth, with the main mission of observing and monitoring the near-Earth solar-terrestrial electromagnetic environment. NOAA owns and operates the GOES system, with NASA overseeing research and development, satellite design, and procurement.

The first GOES satellite, SMS-1, was launched in 1974 and was the first to use spin-stabilized instruments to view Earth from different perspectives. Later, more advanced GOES satellites used more sophisticated instrumentation to collect a variety of data, including cloud thickness, moisture content, atmospheric temperature and pressure, and more.

One of the more remarkable innovations was a technology called the Space Weather Imaging System, or SXI. This instrument provided a high-cadence, near real time image of the Sun and solar phenomena like coronal holes and flares that affect Earth’s environment. In the early 2000s, this information was very important in supporting the nation’s Space Environment Services Center (SESC).

SXI was damaged by a solar flare in 2006, however, and NOAA engineers developed a new system to monitor the Sun and its effects. It is now the primary source of information for the Space Environment Management Office (SEMAO), the agency responsible for the nation’s space weather operations and services.

Go was brought to the West by German mathematicians and game enthusiasts in the early 1900s. The game quickly caught on and became very popular in the U.S., thanks to a number of highly skilled players, such as Otto Korschelt and Edward Lasker, cousin of the legendary chess champion Emanuel Lasker. The American Go Association was founded in New York in 1937.

Go has also had a long history in Japan, with play beginning there in 1000 A.D. The game reached its heyday in the 1600s, when warlord Tokugawa unified Japan. He decreed that four schools of go be established and supported, allowing top players to compete against each other in a tournament every year. The event gave rise to a system of professional go play, with matches and game analysis featured in newspapers on a daily basis. Today, the game is hugely popular in both countries, with millions of players worldwide. Learn more about the history of GOES and its predecessors from this UW/SSEC library page. (Opens in a new tab).