A “next generation” US weather satellite that was rocketed into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:42 p.m. EST on Saturday (5.12 a.m. Sunday, India time) is on its way to sharpen forecasts, watches and warnings about hurricanes and storms, NASA said. After the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R), reaches its final designated orbit in the next two weeks, it will be renamed GOES-16, the US space agency said in a statement.
“The launch of GOES-R represents a major step forward in terms of our ability to provide more timely and accurate information that is critical for life-saving weather forecasts and warnings,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “It also continues a decades-long partnership between NASA and NOAA to successfully build and launch geostationary environmental satellites,” Zurbuchen added.
The new satellite will become operational within a year, after undergoing a checkout and validation of its six new instruments, including the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit. “The next generation of weather satellites is finally here,” NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said.
Forecasters will use the lightning mapper to hone in on storms that represent the greatest threats. The satellite’s primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands, including two visible channels, four near-infrared channels, and 10 infrared channels.
Improved space weather sensors on GOES-R will monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings. In all, data from GOES-R will result in 34 new or improved meteorological, solar and space weather products, NASA said.