The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is preparing to launch a geostationary satellite that can scan the earth from North Pole to South Pole in five minutes.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) will provide weather reports to meteorologists, enabling them to observe weather patterns in the Western Hemisphere develop in near-real time. GOES-R is the first in a series of four satellites that will provide weather forecasts; it will launch at 5:40 p.m. on Nov. 4.

“GOES-R is a quantum leap above and beyond its NOAA predecessors,” said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, at a press conference on Oct. 4. “U.S. forecasting supports the world.”

The four satellites will sustain coverage through 2036, according to Greg Mandt, NOAA’s GOES-R program manager. Mandt said that these satellites are the most sophisticated ones NOAA has ever launched and contain technological abilities previous systems lacked. For example, GOES-R is equipped with an Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), which can take pictures revealing area imagery and radiometric information about Earth’s oceans, weather, and environment. Mandt said the ABI functions five times faster than previous satellites at a resolution four times clearer.

GOES-R is also furnished with a Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), which will measure lightning activity within clouds, between clouds, and on the ground throughout the Americas. In addition to rain and winds, GOES-R will be able to measure other natural occurrences, such as volcanic ash. Mandt used the example of a volcano that erupted a few days ago in Mexico as one of the phenomena on which GOES-R will be able to collect data.

The satellite will be able to update scientists with information every five minutes. Scientists can also use the satellite to conduct detailed studies on specific events.

“We’re really excited to receive data,” said Louis Uccellini, Director of the National Weather Service (NWS). “We’re ready for this data as it flows.”


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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.