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Say Hello to GOES-East

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This isn't the first time that the GOES-16 satellite has had a name change. Prior to its launch in late 2016, it was known as GOES-R. Yet another name change commemorates the satellite's operational status. NOAA's newest satellite will be known from here on out as GOES-East.

(Image from December 20, 2017. Credit: NOAA)

GOES-16 satellite has been put to the test since its launch and has succeeded in providing spectacular images. The new data has proven its potential to improve weather forecasts, and has helped to monitor weather hazards at a more detailed level. The GOES-16 provided critical data during this year's extremely active hurricane season. The defined imagery has helped monitor and detect wildfires. The testing period also showed potential improvements to aviation weather forecasting.

So what makes GOES-East so special? For starters, it's the first in a series of next-generation geostationary satellites. Aboard the satellite is a brand new suite of instruments that will provide more detailed images in near-real time. For example, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) has provided detailed snapshots of the Earth's surface as quickly as every 30 seconds, considerably faster than any previous satellites. It's not just the speed that the images are received, but also the resolution. The newest NOAA satellites can see things as small as half a kilometer across; predecessors could see down to one kilometer. With the Lightning Mapper, we will be able to detect lightning strikes like never before. GOES-16 won't just be monitoring the Earth's atmosphere. It will collect data from the Sun and incoming solar storms.

(Credit: NOAA)

During it's test cruise, GOES-16 surveyed the Earth's surface using 16 spectral bands within the visible, near-infrared, and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. All of these different channels will help meteorologists distinguish between clouds, water vapor, smoke, ice, and volcanic ash.

GOES-16 has replaced GOES-13 in the east “position,” centered at 75° west. Orbiting at 22,300 miles above the Earth, the satellite covers most of North America, including the entire continental U.S., Mexico, and most of Canada.

(Credit: NOAA)

Over the next six years three more next-generation satellites will be launched. GOES-S is already preparing for a March 2018 launch in Florida. The final two satellites, GOES-T and GOES-U, will be sent into orbit sometime in 2020 and 2024, respectively.

- Meteorologist Jill Szwed

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