America’s newest next-generation Earth observing weather satellite, NOAA’s GOES-16, has returned its first high-definition images of Earth—one of which even includes the Moon!
I mean look at that…hard to believe this picture of the Moon came from a weather satellite!
GOES-16 is the newest and most advanced member of the GOES family of Earth observation satellites used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to deliver detailed and up-to-date weather information to meteorologists around the country. Designed, built, and launched under NASA control, command of GOES satellites are handed over to NOAA after they reach orbit. At that time their designations change from a letter to number.
GOES-16—at the time GOES-R—was launched aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 from Cape Canaveral on November 19, 2016. I was on site for the night launch; check out the video below captured from about 5 miles from the pad.
The first GOES satellite was launched in October 1975.
From its position in geostationary orbit, 22,300 miles above the Earth, GOES-16 can provide a full image of the planet every 15 minutes—in 16 channels—and one of the continental U.S. every five minutes, and scans the Earth at five times the speed of its predecessors and at four times the resolution.
And this picture shows my neck of the woods, the U.S. northeast:
In addition to being a weather observation satellite, GOES-16 is also a communication satellite; data that is sent down to NOAA can also be disseminated to meteorologists with receiving capabilities in near real time.
GOES-16 will also observe space weather from the Sun, monitoring the conditions in space that could affect other satellites in orbit and electrical systems on the ground.
This is such an exciting day for NOAA! One of our GOES-16 scientists compared this to seeing a newborn baby’s first pictures — it’s that exciting for us. These images come from the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth. The fantastically rich images provide us with our first glimpse of the impact GOES-16 will have on developing life-saving forecasts.
— Stephen Volz Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service
GOES-16 will become fully operational as GOES-East or GOES-West in November 2017.