GOES-U Will Carry a New Space Weather Instrument


Since 1975, NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (“space weather”). GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and improved understanding of long-term climate conditions.

NOAA’s latest GOES satellite, the fourth in the GOES-R series, will be launched into orbit on April 2024. Like the three satellites currently in service, it will deliver near-real time imagery to help forecasters with severe weather prediction, lightning detection and space weather observations. But GOES-U will be different in one important way – it will carry something new: the first-of-its-kind space weather instrument called Compact Coronagraph-1, or CCOR-1.

CCOR-1 will provide real-time observations of the sun’s magnetic field from its limb, which extends over about half of the Earth. It will be able to detect coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, as they develop. CMEs can impact Earth’s atmosphere and surface, and have the potential to disrupt communications systems and power grids on our planet. Observing the sun’s corona in real time will allow scientists to track these events and respond to their impacts.

The satellite is equipped with two primary instruments, the Imager and Sounder. The Imager provides day and night imagery of the Earth and its atmosphere. The Sounder measures the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, cloud cover and precipitation. It also detects and tracks surface wind speed and direction, as well as provides information on the structure and dynamics of clouds.

In addition to the Imager and Sounder, GOES-U will be carrying the Space Environment Monitor (SEM) package from NOAA’s Space Weather Operations Center in Boulder, CO. The SEM package includes the Solar X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (SXI) which will be used to observe and monitor the Sun’s surface, allowing meteorologists to issue warnings in advance of solar flares that can disrupt communications and damage satellites.

There are many sites to access GOES imagery and products online. Some are realtime and others archived. Earl’s GOES satellite page. NASA’s GOES images and products page. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University GOES sector pages for both GOES East and GOES West. CIMSS Tropical page with several bands and gridded data. Other GOES resources from NOAA and the Open Geospatial Consortium.