The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s newest and most advanced weather satellite has just returned its first image – a color scan of the Western Hemisphere.
Taken May 5 and released May 11, this is the first of many images from a satellite that will help monitor severe weather, pollution, wildfires and climate change during the next decade.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (Goes) T was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 1 and from there it headed into geostationary orbit, 35,888 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean equatorial.
At this altitude and latitude, Goes-18 orbits at the same rate as the Earth’s rotation, allowing it to maintain a constant position relative to the ground below.
Located at 137.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-18 will serve as the westernmost partner of GOES-16, already monitoring the eastern part of the Western Hemisphere from its orbit over South America at 75.2 degrees west longitude. Together they will monitor extreme weather and climate conditions from West Africa to eastern Australia, and from Alaska to Antarctica.
The color image produced by GOES-18 is actually a synthesis of 16 different images, each taken in one of the 16 different channels of infrared and visible light that GOES-18 uses to monitor the Earth.
Monitoring all 16 channels enables GOES-18 to provide data to forecasters to help them predict severe weather, monitor fog that can affect ocean and air travel, and detect smoke from wildfires. The satellite also carries a lightning mapping tool to monitor lightning strikes and will help NOAA monitor the effects of climate change.
GOES-18 will replace GOES-17 in 2023. GOES-17 suffered a cooling system malfunction that prevents the satellite from cooling its infrared detectors sufficiently, and GOES-18 will help the struggling satellite with observations throughout 2022 before to intervene to replace that outright.
Goes-18 is the third of four satellites planned for the Goes-r series. The fourth, Goes-U, is slated for launch in 2024, although this satellite focuses on space weather rather than terrestrial weather.
The Goes-r series satellites will serve until the early 2030s, when NOAA plans to replace them with the GeoXO series, a constellation of next-generation weather satellites already under development as part of a joint project. between NASA and NOAA.