Advanced GOES satellites to improve weather forecasting

(Central) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) newest weather satellite, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S), will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The second of four next-generation GOES weather satellites, the stars of an $11 billion program to upgrade America's weather observation and forecasting infrastructure, is poised for launch Thursday atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

NOAA in partnership with NASA will launch the next generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) later to be named as GOES-West.

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An advanced satellite is heading to space as part of a system that's changing the severe weather game. Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett GOES-S mission managers confirmed at 8:58 p.m. the spacecraft's solar arrays successfully deployed and the spacecraft was operating on its own power.

In addition to high-resolution images of the West Coast, officials say the new GOES weather satellite will help them track severe weather such as cyclones, fog, and even wildfires, which plague the western USA every year.

The satellite will provide faster, more accurate and more detailed data, in near real-time, to track storm systems, lightning, wildfires, coastal fog and other hazards that affect the western United States.

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It is noted that the satellite will work in tandem with GOES-R, which was successfully launched in November of 2016. It also tracked the paths of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, providing crucial data as to which areas would be impacted the greatest. The state-of-the-art satellite was able to spot wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma previous year before emergency responders were even alerted.

GOES-S will be renamed GOES-17 after tests and checkout. During Hurricane Harvey, for instance, data from the satellite allowed first responders to know when it was safe to go out as the storm's eye passed overhead, rescuing more than 200 people - and when to take shelter just before the back of the eyewall swept back over.

GOES-16 "turned out to be better than we expected it to be", said National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini, on hand for Thursday's launch.

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"Every forecast, whether it's one day, two days, three days, out to seven days in advance, depends on sophisticated numerical models, the world's fastest computers and a global observing system", Uccellini said. The satellite will provide real-time weather reports on the western coast of the US thereby extending the range where NOAA can track weather conditions. GOES-S is the second in the series of weather satellites. The next satellite, GOES-T, is scheduled for launch in 2020.

  • Kelly Blake