Newest weather satellite takes flight

Randal Sanchez
March 5, 2018

If the newest Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite, or GOES-S, makes it safely to orbit, it will be one of the most advanced forecasting satellites ever be placed in the atmosphere and dubbed GOES-17.

The GOES weather satellite (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) will be positioned to provide data to the West Coast of the USA after it's carried into orbit by one of the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.

With it, the United States will now have two of the most advanced weather satellites working in tandem to provide unprecedented coverage across the entire USA and most of the Western Hemisphere, from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand.

GOES-17 will work in tandem with GOES-16, the first satellite in NOAA's new geostationary series, now at the GOES-East position. It will also provide high-resolution images above Alaska and nearby areas at high latitudes where the agency doesn't now have usable data from its "geostationary constellation".

Some of the data the new satellite will collect is information about daily weather patterns, flooding, severe storms and wildfires.

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"When it. becomes operational later this year, GOES-S will see the west in true high-definition, and along with the remaining satellites in our GOES-R series, will extend the life of NOAA's geostationary satellite constellation through 2036", said Tim Walsh, acting director of NOAA's GOES-R program. In addition, GOES-S will be able to collect additional information on forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dust storms. The advanced weather satellite will give researchers and meteorologists unparalleled views of the U.S. West. The satellite will scan the skies five times faster than the GOES-West satellite it will replace, will have four times the spatial resolution and use three times as many spectral bands. The same first-class service is now coming to the Pacific region. The satellite will take a picture of the entire western hemisphere every 15 minutes, the continental United States every 5 minutes, and two more picture settings for storms every 60 and 30 seconds.

And that translates into lives saved.

Two more satellites are part of this mission and scheduled for launch in 2020 and 2024. Each satellite is valued at around $500 million, not counting development costs.

The combined target areas mean the two next-generation spacecraft have a almost complete view of the Western Hemisphere with modern tools that capture high-definition images several times faster than legacy weather satellites.

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