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GOES-16 Weather Satellite Shows Off Next Gen Technology

Images from America’s Newest Eye in the Sky

goes-16 photo

GOES-16, the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration (NOAA) satellite for weather observation and research, has started sending back stunning images that usher in a new era of Earth and space weather observation for the United States and the world.

The color, full-disk composite image shown here was captured at 1:07pm EST on 15 January 2017. The image shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. GOES-16 observes Earth from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles high, creating full disk images like this from the coast of West Africa, to Guam, and everything in between.

The incredibly sharp images are everything we hoped for
-Stephen Volz, NASA

“Seeing these first images from GOES-16 is a foundational moment for the team of scientists and engineers who worked to bring the satellite to launch and are now poised to explore new weather forecasting possibilities with this data and imagery,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services. “The incredibly sharp images are everything we hoped for based on our tests before launch. We look forward to exploiting these new images, along with our partners in the meteorology community, to make the most of this fantastic new satellite.”

GOES-16, First in a New Generation of Weather Satellites

Launched 19 November 2016, GOES-16 is the first in a new series of weather satellites joining the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system operated by the NOAA. It is one of four next generation geosynchronous environmental satellites scheduled for deployment through 2024.

Equipped with three types of advanced instrumentation for Earth sensing, solar imaging, and space environment measuring, the GOES-16 represents a significant technological leap over earlier satellites in the program. Compared to previous generations, these satellites improve research and forecasting capabilities by providing:

  • Three times more spectral information
  • Four times greater spatial resolution
  • Five times faster coverage
  • Real-time mapping of total lightning activity
  • Increased thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time
  • Improved hurricane track and intensity forecasts
  • Improved monitoring of solar x-ray flux
  • Improved monitoring of solar flares and coronal mass ejections
  • Improved geomagnetic storm forecasting

GOES-16 is the Future of Weather Observations and Forecasting

Scientists and NOAA officials are understandably excited about putting all of this new technology to good use.

This image is much more than a pretty picture, it is the future of weather observations and forecasting
-Louis W. Uccellini

“This image is much more than a pretty picture, it is the future of weather observations and forecasting,” said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s National Weather Service, “High resolution imagery from GOES-16 will provide sharper and more detailed views of hazardous weather systems and reveal features that previous instruments might have missed, and the rapid-refresh of these images will allow us to monitor and predict the evolution of these systems more accurately. As a result, forecasters can issue more accurate, timely, and reliable watches and warnings, and provide better information to emergency managers and other decision makers.”

The first three generations of the GOES program have been the mainstay of NOAA space based weather observation for over 40 years. Deployment of GOES-16 and its siblings will extend the operational capability of the GOES program until at least 2036.

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