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NOAA’s GOES-East Operational, GOES-S Next in Line

21 Dec 2017, 5:09 pm

The first of NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series soared into the sky on November 19, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida.

It took one entire year to validate the countless photos and near-real time data from different types of events, and now it’s officially operational as GOES-East, 22,000 miles above the Earth and at 75.2 degrees west.

Because it’s geostationary, that means it rotates at the same speed and direction as the Earth.  It will be able to keep a continuous watch over half of the western hemisphere at all times!

Wait,  just half? Don’t worry, there’s another one that will be joining it to complete the coverage of 50% of the planet:  GOES-S!

“GOES-S will launch and take its place over the West Coast so that we have full coverage of the United States from the coast of Asia to the coast of Africa, explained Mark Jarosz, Observatory Manager at NASA Goddard.

GOES-S is the second in a series of four next generation weather satellites that will be a significant upgrade to the current GOES series in orbit.

“Significantly increased capabilities for meteorologists,” said Tim Gasparrini, GOES-R Program Manager at Lockheed Martin.  “It’s got three times the number of spectral channels, it’s got four times the resolution, and the data refresh rate is five times faster.”

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That’s like going from black and white television to high definition and getting a 360 degree view of the world!

“I think it’s about a year or two,”  Gasparrini said.  “We will have received more data than all the other previous satellites combined.”

A program that has been underway for more than 40 years and now, sending the most advanced technology to watch over us.

“Pretty much all the weather information that they get in their day to day lives comes from these space crafts,” said Jeff Coyne, the GOES-S ATLO Manager (Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations) at Lockheed Martin.  “And it’s also obviously important to people who experience hurricanes and tornadoes, severe weather so that they can get the early warning that they need in order to prepare and protect their loved ones and their own lives.”

The satellite will help aid meteorologists on-air and behind the scenes.

“All the operational improvements brought to us in the field and how we use it day in and day out, and in particular how useful it was during the 2017 hurricane season, record as it was,” said  David Sharp, Science & Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Melbourne.

The technology will even assist emergency management officials and firefighters from coast to coast.

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“If you’ve got somewhere around a quarter to a half acre fire burning anywhere in the continental United States, the satellite can pick up and detect that there’s a fire burning there and localize you to a spot close enough to the fire that you can see the smoke and know where it’s at,” Gasparrini said.

So once the GOES-S joins GOES-East in space, what happens to the satellites they will replace?

“As the GOES satellites get older, we don’t have enough fuel to bring them all the way back,” said Tim Walsh, System Program Director (Acting) at NOAA.  “We have to move them out.  So we have something called a graveyard orbit which is about 200-300 KM higher than our typical orbit.”

GOES-S currently is at Astrotech in Titusville, Florida, undergoing launch preparations for a scheduled lift-off in March of 2018.

WeatherNation has an exclusive look at the satellite from inside the clean room after months of testing in Colorado to its journey on the C-5M Super Galaxy to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

For WeatherNation, I’m Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo.


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