GOES

Overview

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program is a joint effort involving NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The GOES satellites enable meteorologists to observe and predict local weather events (thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, floods, and other severe weather events). GOES observations have also been helpful in terms of monitoring events such as dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires. [1] Images from GOES satellites may be viewed through NOAA or the NASA Earth Science Office.

Goes Fleet And Satellite Status

GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch, but once a satellite has achieved orbit, it is assigned a number. The status of all GOES satellites is available here.

GOES satellites A-M/1-12 have all been decommissioned, and GOES-N (GOES-13) is inactive. GOES satellites currently in operation include GOES-O (GOES 14), GOES-P (GOES 15), GOES-R (GOES 16), and GOES-S (GOES 17). GOES 17 is the most recently launched GOES satellite, launched March 1, 2018, and is in operation as GOES West. GOES 16 is in operation as GOES East, with GOES 15 in operation as GOES West backup and GOES 14 operational as an on-orbit spare. GOES-T is scheduled for launch in December 2021, while GOES-U has a launch commitment date as the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2025. [3]

Goes-S Series

NASA launched the GOES-S into orbit for NOAA on March 1, 2018. The intent of the GOES-S spacecraft is to give meteorologists additional tools to improve the detection and observation of environmental phenomena, which directly affect public safety and protection of property.

GOES-S is the second in the GOES-R Series of next-generation weather satellites, and was renamed GOES-17 when it reached geostationary orbit. NASA sources note that GOES-17 plays a crucial role in U.S. weather monitoring and forecasting, and resides in a geostationary position over the Pacific Ocean to provide imagery and data to improve weather forecasts for the western continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. [4]

Key Stakeholders

Specific to spacecraft oversight, NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA/NASA office and oversee the acquisition of the program ground system. Additionally, NASA oversees the acquisition of the spacecraft, instruments and launch vehicles; while Lockheed Martin Space Systems is responsible for spacecraft development, integration and testing. Mission operations are performed at NOAA’s Satellite Operations facility in Maryland; Harris Corp. provides the main instrument payload for the Advanced Baseline Imager and the ground system, including the antenna system for data receipt; and Colorado’s United Launch Alliance provides the Atlas V launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), which is based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the agency’s efforts to commercially provide rockets for specific missions. [5]

Instruments

There are three main categories of GOES-S series instruments: NADIR pointing (ABI and GLM); solar pointing (EXIS and SUVI); and in-situ (SEISS and MAG).

  • Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI): The ABI is the primary instrument used for imaging Earth’s weather, oceans, and the environment. The instrument will view the Earth with 16 different spectral bands, which includes two visible channels, four near-infrared (NIR) channels, and ten infrared (IR) channels. ABI is a multi-channel, passive imaging radiometer that observes the western hemisphere and provides variable area imagery and radiometric information of the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, and cloud cover. [6]
  • Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS): EXIS is an instrument used to monitor solar irradiance in the upper atmosphere. There are two main sensors on board EXIS—the Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor (EUVS) and the X-Ray Sensor (XRS)—which help scientists monitor activity on the sun. XRS monitors solar flares and helps to predict solar proton events that can penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field. EUVS measures changes in solar extreme ultraviolet (UV) irradiance. [7]
  • Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM): GLM is a single-channel, NIR optical transient detector that can detect changes in an optical scene, indicating the presence of lightning. GLM collects information such as the frequency, location, and extent of lightning discharges to identify severe thunderstorms and tropical cyclones. [8]
  • Magnetometer (MAG): The GOES-R series MAG provides measurements of the space environment magnetic field that controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere. The MAG plays a role with regard to NOAA’s space weather operations, as it provides information on the level of geomagnetic activity and permits the detection of sudden magnetic storms. [9]
  • Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS): SEISS is comprised of four sensors that monitor proton, electron, and heavy ion fluxes in the magnetosphere. The information from SEISS is used for hazard assessment and to warn of high flux events, which can mitigate damage to radio communications. SEISS sensors include the Energetic Heavy Ion Sensor (EHIS), Magnetospheric Particle Sensors – High and Low (MPS-LO and MPS-HI), and the Solar and Galactic Proton Sensor (SGPS). [10]
  • Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI): SUVI is a telescope that monitors the sun in the extreme UV wavelength range. SUVI enables the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center to provide early space weather warnings to electric power companies, telecom providers, and satellite operators. [11]

Updated October 2020 by Kristin Stiner