Advanced Weather Imaging

NASA’s first GOES-R weather satellite reaches orbit

By Kristin Quinn

Dec. 5, 2016

NASA’s new advanced weather satellite will scan the hemisphere five times faster and at four times higher resolution than current systems. The first GOES-R satellite launched Nov. 19 and reached geostationary orbit Nov. 29. The four-satellite GOES-R program will provide more precise weather forecasting in addition to real-time mapping of lightning activity and improved solar activity monitoring.

Harris built GOES-R’s main instrument payload, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). GOES-R’s ABI will provide rapid-refresh imagery as often as every 30 seconds, especially during severe weather events, according to Eric Webster, vice president and general manager with Harris Space and Intelligence Systems.

Current weather instruments, which were also built by Harris in the ’90s, offer about five spectral channels—the ABI has 16, 10 of which are infrared, according to Webster.

“[GOES-R] will be able to tell and measure forest fires, fog, vegetation changes, sea surface temperature, volcanic ash, and more,” Webster said. “It has many more products and capabilities than current instruments because it’s able to discern different heat changes and have that at a higher resolution.”

Harris also built the ground system for GOES-R and will be responsible for flying and controlling the satellites, operating the instruments, and processing the data.

“Because it’s a more capable instrument there will be about 40 times the data,” Webster said. “ … Everyone’s really excited to see how to utilize the data and have better forecasts and a better understanding of severe weather.”

Lockheed Martin is responsible for the design, creation, and testing of the GOES-R satellites as well as for spacecraft processing along with developing the Geostationary Lightning Mapper and Solar Ultraviolet Imager instruments.

GOES-R is expected to be fully operational in about a year.

 

Photo courtesy of Harris