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Successful Launch of New Weather Satellite Brings New Forecast Tool
May 7, 2017
By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West
The U.S. weather communities will soon get a new tool in its forecasting toolbox, a first in a series of new state-of-the-art weather satellites. The satellite had a successful launch this evening from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in conjunction with NASA will operate the new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R, known as GOES-R, in a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth’s equator. The 6,173 pound satellite will be launched aboard a two-stage Atlas V rocket.
This satellite, like previous GOES satellites, can view the entire western hemisphere, offering forecasters a continuous view of developing weather, including hurricanes, thunderstorms and blizzards from its perch high in space.
However, this new satellite is a significant improvement over the satellites it will replace. GOES-R will be able to scan the entire Earth hemisphere five times faster than previous satellites while offering four times greater image resolution and triple the number of spectral channels. In severe weather situations, it will be able to scan and deliver high-definition satellite images focused on specific severe weather every 30-60 seconds while continuing to scan the rest of the viewable hemisphere. Its improved data will be fed into computer forecast models.
The GOES-R will also be carrying instrumentation that will detect and warn about incoming solar radiation that could harm satellites, astronauts, commercial aviation and power transmission on Earth. It will also carry the first lightning mapper in geostationary orbit, allowing the detection and tracking of cloud-to-ground and intercloud lightning throughout the western hemisphere. Increased lightning activity within storms is often a precursor to severe thunderstorm development.
All of these improvements and new tools will help all weather forecasters, both in the government and private sector, provide more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings.