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GOES-R impact on forecasting could save lives

This photo from the November launch of GOES-R was provided by NASA.

Why all the buzz about the new weather satellite, GOES-R?

It was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 19th. The GOES-R is currently in orbit 22,300 miles above Earth and will become known as GOES-16. It should be operational within a year assuming that everything is working properly.

Most meteorologists, including myself, were excited about the launch because of what this satellite means for the future of weather forecasting.

“GOES-R’s instruments will be capable of scanning the planet five times faster and with four times more resolution than any other satellite in our fleet,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “With these new instruments and powerful new capabilities, GOES-R will strengthen NOAA’s ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and make the United States an even stronger, more resilient Weather-Ready Nation.”

We are talking high-resolution satellite imagery as often as every 30 seconds versus the 30 minute updates with current satellites. This will help improve many different aspects of forecasting from hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, the prediction and warnings of severe weather, and rainfall estimates.

This better quality and more frequent data will be plugged into our weather models to help us predict the weather from tomorrow right through next week more accurately.

One of the six new gadgets that GOES-R has is the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit. This new technology will enable scientists to observe lightning, which tells us where and when a storm is likely to intensify.

There will also be improved space weather sensors to monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings.

GOES-R is also part of SARSAT, an international satellite-based search and rescue network. The satellite is carrying a special transponder that can detect distress signals from emergency beacons.

There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.

GOES-S is set to launch in March 2018.

For more information, check out this website: http://www.goes-r.gov.

This article is an entry in More than Meteorology, a weather blog written by certified broadcast meteorologist Sonya Stevens. To view more More than Meteorology blog entries, click here.

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