Planet Erde - America’s newest weather satellite sends glorious pictures of Earth (and the moon)


Full disk from GOES-16
This composite color full-disk image from GOES-16, focusing on North and South America, was acquired at 10:07 a.m. PT on Jan. 15. (NOAA / NASA Photo)


Two months after its launch, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-16 weather satellite is sending back its first images – and they’re spectacular.

GOES-16 is watching the Western Hemisphere from a geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth, with a camera known as the Advanced Baseline Imager that provides four times the resolution of previously launched GOES satellites.

In a news release accompanying the first pictures, NOAA says the higher resolution should allow forecasters to pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy.

The imager scans Earth’s disk five times faster than the earlier generation of GOES cameras. That allows it to produce pictures of the continental U.S. every five minutes, and full-disk views every 15 minutes.

Moon as seen by GOES-16
GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked across the surface of Earth on Jan. 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration. (NASA / NOAA Photo)
Yucatan Peninsula from GOES-16
This area of Mexico and Central America is seen from GOES-16 with a largely cloud-free view. The image shows a fire and smoke in southern Mexico, near the coast. (NASA / NOAA Photo)
ABI channels on GOES-16
This 16-panel image shows the continental United States in the channels provided by GOES-16’s Advanced Baseline Imager. There are two channels in visible light, four in near-infrared and 10 in infrared wavelengths. These channels help forecasters distinguish between clouds, water vapor, smoke, ice and volcanic ash. (NOAA / NASA Photo)

“One of our GOES-16 scientists compared this to seeing a newborn baby’s first pictures – it’s that exciting for us,” Stephen Volz, director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, said in today’s release. “These images come from the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth.”

NASA will position GOES-16 to focus either on the western U.S. and the Pacific, or the eastern U.S. and the Atlantic. That decision is due to be announced in May, and the satellite should be operational as either GOES East or GOES West by November.

The second in a set of four next-generation weather satellites, currently known as GOES-S, is currently undergoing testing in preparation for launch in 2018. If GOES-16 goes East, GOES-S will go West, and vice versa.

Quelle: GeekWire

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