The satellite will undergo final preparations for launch in early 2022.
The GOES-T team has spent years building and testing the satellite. Now it’s time for final preparations to launch it into space!
New tool accurately forecasts lightning up to an hour in advance.
The latest GOES-R Series quarterly newsletter is now available for download.Download All Newsletters
Solar panels will power the satellite in space.
This new video series features significant weather events and environmental hazards, as seen by NOAA satellites.
NOAA's latest generation of geostationary weather satellites
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R Series is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites. The GOES-R Series significantly improves the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property and our nation’s economic health and prosperity.
The satellites provide advanced imaging with increased spatial resolution and faster coverage for more accurate forecasts, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.
The GOES-R Series is a four-satellite program (GOES-R/S/T/U) that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036.
Remote environmental sensing is only part of the GOES-R Series mission. The satellites also provide unique capabilities to relay data directly to users to meet critical needs
DCS is a satellite relay system used to collect information from Earth-based data collection platforms that transmit in-situ environmental sensor data from more than 20,000 platforms across the hemisphere.
GOES Rebroadcast provides the primary relay of full resolution, calibrated, near-real-time direct broadcast space relay of Level 1b data from each instrument and Level 2 data from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). GRB replaces the GOES VARiable (GVAR) service
The Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) is a direct service that provides users with weather forecasts, warnings, graphics and other information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS) in near real-time. The HRIT service is a new high data rate (400 Kpbs) version of the previous LRIT (Low Rate Information Transmission), broadcasting GOES-R Series satellite imagery and selected products to remotely-located user terminals.
The SARSAT system detects and locates mariners, aviators and other recreational users in distress. The GOES-R Series continues the legacy function of the SARSAT system on board NOAA’s GOES satellites. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, vessels and from handheld personal locator beacons. The GOES-R Series SARSAT transponder operates with a lower uplink power than the current system (32 bBm), enabling GOES-R Series satellites to detect weaker beacon signals.
The GOES-R series spacecraft bus is three-axis stabilized and designed for 10 years of on-orbit operation preceded by up to five years of on-orbit storage. The spacecraft carries three classifications of instruments: nadir-pointing, solar-pointing, and in-situ. Visit the Spacecraft page of this site for more information.
Explore the GOES-R Series spacecraft: Use the quick view buttons above to swap the views of the spacecraft, launch the spacecraft 3d model using the button below, watch the video below and use the Spacecraft & Instruments links below.
A fly by in space of GOES-R. Note: there is no audio, therefore no closed captions.
The most recent images of Earth's western hemisphere from the GOES constellation.
Environmental satellites provide data in several different formats. The most commonly used channels on weather satellites are the visible, infrared, and water vapor.
Visible satellite images, which look like black and white photographs, are derived from the satellite’s signals. Clouds usually appear white, while land and water surfaces appear in shades of gray or black. The visible channel reflects solar radiation. Clouds, the Earth's atmosphere, and the Earth's surface all absorb and reflect incoming solar radiation. Since visible imagery is produced by reflected sunlight (radiation), it is only available during daylight.
In the infrared (IR) channel, the satellite senses energy as heat. The Earth’s surface absorbs about half of the incoming solar energy. Clouds and the atmosphere absorb a much smaller amount. The Earth’s surface, clouds, and the atmosphere then re-emit part of this absorbed solar energy as heat. The infrared channel senses this re-emitted radiation. Infrared imagery is useful for determining cloud features both at day and night.
Water vapor imagery is used to analyze the presence and movement of water vapor moisture in the upper and middle levels of the atmosphere. The wavelength spectrum used to detect water vapor is in the 6.7 to 7.3 micrometer wavelength range. The darker regions in water vapor imagery are areas where very little water vapor exists in the middle and upper troposphere, and the lighter regions are very moist. Water vapor imagery is a very valuable tool for weather analysis and prediction because water vapor imagery shows moisture in the atmosphere, not just cloud patterns. This allows meteorologists to observe large-scale circulation patterns even when clouds are not present.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains two primary constellations of environmental satellites: geostationary and polar-orbiting. These satellites are part of NOAA's integrated observing system, which includes satellites, radar, surface automated weather stations, weather balloons, sounders, buoys, instrumented aircraft and other sensors, along with the data management infrastructure needed for this system.
Geostationary satellites orbit 35,800 km (22,300 miles) above Earth's equator at speeds equal to Earth's rotation, which means they maintain their positions and provide continuous coverage. Information from geostationary satellites is used for short-term (1 day) weather forecasting and severe storm warning and tracking.
Polar-orbiting satellites make regular orbits around the Earth’s poles from about 833 km (517 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The Earth constantly rotates counterclockwise underneath the path of the satellite, making for a different view with each orbit. Information from polar-orbiting satellites is used for mid-range (3-7 day) forecasts and advanced warnings of severe weather.
GOES satellites continually view the continental United States, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central and South America, and Southern Canada. To fully cover Alaska, Hawaii, the entire continental United States and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (for tropical storms), NOAA operates two GOES satellites simultaneously: GOES East and GOES West. GOES East is located at 75.2° W and provides most of the U.S. weather information. GOES West is located at 137.2°W over the Pacific Ocean. In addition to two operational satellites, NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare.
Since 1975, GOES have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. NASA builds and launches the satellites and NOAA operates them.
GOES-R launched on November 19, 2016, and was followed by GOES-S on March 1, 2018. GOES-T is scheduled to launch on March 1, 2022, and GOES-U in 2024.
GOES-S, the second satellite in the GOES-R Series, launched on March 1, 2018, at 5:02 p.m. EST at the opening of the two-hour launch window. GOES-S launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket. The satellite was renamed GOES-17 when it reached geostationary orbit on March 12, 2018.
GOES-17 joined its sister satellite, GOES-16, in orbit. The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, launched on November 19, 2016, and became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit. GOES-16 replaced GOES-13 as NOAA’s operational GOES East satellite at 75.2 degrees west longitude on December 18, 2017. GOES-17 became the operational GOES West satellite at 137.2 degrees west longitude on February 12, 2019, replacing GOES-15.
GOES-T is scheduled to launch on March 1, 2022. Pending a successful launch and on-orbit checkout, GOES-T, which will be renamed GOES-18 once it reaches geostationary orbit, will replace GOES-17 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite.
GOES-U is planned for launch in April 2024.
GOES satellites are placed into a geosynchronous orbit that keeps them over a specific location on the earth. By maintaining a position hovering over a fixed point on Earth's surface, GOES are able to constantly monitor atmospheric conditions in a particular portion of the Earth's atmosphere. Note that non-geosynchronous orbits (for example polar orbits) move over an ever-rotating earth underneath them, therefore seeing a constantly changing view, which has advantages for other types of missions.
GOES-16 became operational as NOAA’s GOES East on December 18, 2017, replacing GOES-13. From its operational location of 75.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-16 is keeping watch over most of North America, including the continental United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west coast of Africa.
GOES-17 replaced GOES-15 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite on February 12, 2019. From its operational location of 137.2 degrees west longitude, GOES West is in position to watch over the western continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean all the way to New Zealand.
NOAA powered off GOES-15 on March 2, 2020 and placed it into orbital storage. Since late 2018, GOES-15 has operated in tandem with its advanced, newly launched replacement, GOES-17, as a precaution, while engineers worked on technical issues with the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the primary instrument on the satellite. A blockage in the pipe prevented the ABI from cooling properly and hindered its ability to collect data during certain periods and hours of the year. Engineers mitigated the issue through operational changes to the ABI and mission operations, including the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques, to regain capability to collect data during a portion of the affected period. Those efforts have resulted in the GOES-17 ABI delivering 98 percent of expected data. NOAA plans to return the GOES-15 imager to temporary service during the peak period for Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones, around August 2020.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in the GOES-R Series of advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring satellites, arrived in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 to begin final preparations for launch, which is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022. Watch its journey from Colorado to Florida in the latest installment of our Earth from Orbit video series.
NOAA and NASA are now targeting March 1, 2022, for the launch of GOES-T satellite. The launch was recently scheduled for February 16, 2022. However, shifts in launch dates for missions scheduled ahead of GOES-T prompted NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to coordinate the new date.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in the GOES-R Series of advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring satellites, arrived in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 to begin final preparations for an early 2022 launch. Shipping a satellite is no small feat. GOES-T is the size of a small school bus and weighs over 6,000 pounds! The spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, where GOES-T was built, carefully packed the satellite in a special shipping container that protected its sensitive instruments and functioned as a miniature clean room during transport. GOES-T was then driven to Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, where it hitched a ride aboard a C-5 Super Galaxy aircraft to Kennedy Space Center.
The GOES-T satellite team has spent years building the instruments and spacecraft, integrating all of the satellite’s components, and conducting rigorous testing to make sure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and residing 22,236 miles above Earth. So, it’s time to launch it into space, right? Not quite yet! Learn more about the final steps GOES-T will undergo in preparation for a February 2022 launch.
The urgency of Earth science and climate studies took the spotlight Friday, Nov. 5, as Vice President Kamala Harris visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The vice president received a first-hand look at how the nation’s space program studies climate change and provides crucial information to understand our planet’s changes and their impacts on our lives. The six-decade NOAA-NASA partnership was highlighted during the tour, including a GOES-R Program presentation by system program director Pam Sullivan that emphasized the essential data the satellites provide for accurate and timely forecasts that save lives and help people adapt to climate change. Additional photos of the visit available via the NASA Goddard Flickr page.
On Oct. 28, NOAA’s GOES East satellite observed a strong solar flare with its Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). The flare produced aurora that was visible across parts of the northern U.S. Learn more in this week's Earth from Orbit: Solar Flare Erupts.
In Hurricane Ida, NOAA’s GOES-16 saw more than meets the eye—literally! Two NOAA experts discuss how the satellite’s advanced technology provided critical information about this devastating storm.
NOAA satellites have a boo-tiful view of Earth, 24/7. Sometimes they see some haunting sights, like moon glint or the moon creeping near the edge of Earth. When monitoring hurricanes, GOES satellites have captured eerie imagery that looks skulls in these monster storms. Graveyards are home to ghosts and ghouls, not satellites. But when a GOES satellite reaches its end of life, it’s sent to what’s called a graveyard orbit, out of the way of busier operational orbits. Finally, we ain’t afraid of no GOES-Ts. We’re excited for the upcoming launch of the latest sequel in the GOES-R Series. Happy Halloween from NOAA Satellites!
On October 25, 2021, a phenomenon called an “atmospheric river” dumped heavy rain and mountain snow across the Western U.S. and Canada. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow belts of moisture that move through the atmosphere. They can deliver large amounts of rain, and high-elevation snow. This deluge of rain can help end droughts but also can produce flash flooding and mudslides in some areas. NOAA satellites monitor these rivers in the sky as they make their way over the West Coast.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for July – September 2021 is now available. After successful Pre-Shipment and Operational Readiness Reviews, GOES-T is ready to ship to the Cape and is on track for a Feb. 16, 2022 launch. GOES-U also had a big quarter, completing the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) environmental test program and selecting the launch vehicle, this time a Falcon Heavy. Meanwhile, our GeoXO team completed Key Decision Point A and is preparing for the Milestone 1 review, which will formally initiate the new program. GeoXO also awarded Phase A study contracts for the Sounder instrument, starting us on the path to make hyperspectral sounding operational over the U.S. for the first time and leading to improved forecasting. Another highlight this quarter was the first-ever GOES-R Hackathon, during which teams of college students developed innovative solutions to contemporary environmental issues using GOES-R Series satellite data. The first-place team developed a smart phone app that uses GOES-R data to 3D print images of storms, hurricanes and other natural phenomena.
The GOES-R Program conducted its first-ever hackathon from Sept. 24-26, 2021. During this virtual event, teams of college students collaborated to develop interdisciplinary solutions to contemporary environmental issues using GOES-R Series satellite data. The teams had 48 hours to complete one of five challenges and submit a video presentation. A team of NOAA scientists judged the submissions on creativity and out-of-the-box innovative solutions, feasibility, and thoughtful use of GOES-R products and/or synthesis with external data sources. The first-place team developed an app to allow users to use GOES-R satellite data to 3D print images of storms, hurricanes and other natural phenomena.
As Hurricane Sam churns in the Atlantic Ocean, NOAA satellites are carefully monitoring the powerful Category 4 storm, the strongest of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season to date. Sam formed on Sept. 23 and rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane by Sept. 25. Sam’s rate of intensification was the highest on record that far east in the Atlantic this late in the calendar year. Satellite observations showed convective bursts and the presence of a defined, stable eye during rapid intensification. Significant lightning activity was also seen within the eyewall as Sam rapidly intensified. Despite several fluctuations in intensity, Sam has maintained major hurricane strength since Sept. 25.
NOAA and NASA are now targeting Feb. 16, 2022, for the launch of GOES-T satellite. The launch was previously planned for Jan. 8, 2022. Changes to launch dates in missions scheduled ahead of GOES-T prompted NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to coordinate the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.
September 10 marked the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologists determined this peak date by recording the total number of named storms in the Atlantic basin over the last 100 hurricane seasons and taking an average of when the most storms occur. Around 75% of Atlantic seasons since the beginning of the satellite era in 1966 have had at least one named storm on September 10 and about 50% of seasons have had at least one active hurricane on that date. Tropical activity tends to peak around this time because of warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures and weaker wind shear. NOAA satellites recently monitored several storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season’s peak.
On Sept. 10, 2021, NASA announced that it has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide launch services for the GOES-U satellite. GOES-U is targeted to launch in April 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Over the past week, Hurricane Ida has caused intense flooding and destruction from the Gulf of Mexico to New England, and is blamed for several fatalities. Ida struck Louisiana near Port Fourchon on August 29 as a powerful Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. The storm made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and is tied with 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 for the strongest maximum sustained winds at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane. In just three days, Ida rapidly progressed from a tropical wave to a hurricane. After striking Cuba’s Isle of Youth as a Category 1 hurricane on August 27, Ida headed northward and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane. Ida moved inland and brought heavy rainfall and widespread flooding from the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys into the Central and Southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, bringing record rainfall and deadly flooding to the New York region. NOAA satellites monitored the progression of the storm as it developed and intensified.
As we approach the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, activity in the tropics is ramping up. NOAA satellites are monitoring storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Tropical Storm Fred formed on Aug. 11, 2021 and made landfall on the eastern Florida panhandle on Aug. 16. Tropical Storm Grace developed on Aug. 14 in the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a hurricane on Aug. 18 as it approached Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. And Tropical Storm Henri developed south of Bermuda on Aug. 16. Meanwhile, hurricane Linda churns in the eastern Pacific. As hurricane season heats up, NOAA satellites provide critical data for forecasting and tracking the location, movement and intensity of the storms.
As wildfires continue to rage in North America, and the Dixie Fire became the second largest in California history, fire activity has also spiked across the globe. Thick smoke from the hundreds of wildfires burning in Siberia has reached parts of Mongolia, western Greenland, and, for the first time in recorded history — the North Pole. Hundreds of fires are also raging in Greece, Italy, Algeria and Turkey among one of the worst heat waves in decades. NOAA’s satellites and those from our partners across the globe are providing critical data for detecting and tracking the hundreds of fires that are burning worldwide as well as monitoring reduced visibility and air quality from the smoke produced by the blazes. These observations aid forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders.
Using the GOES-17 Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) in a novel way, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) researchers at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information captured the first-ever images of dynamics in the sun’s elusive middle corona. These SUVI observations reveal how the middle corona influences the solar wind and eruptions from the sun, a finding that could improve space weather forecasting. The study was published in Nature Astronomy on August 2, 2021.
NASA and NOAA are now targeting Jan. 8, 2022, for the launch of the GOES-T satellite. The launch was previously planned for Dec. 7, 2021. NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) coordinated the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for April – June 2021 is now available. It has been an eventful quarter for the GOES-R/GeoXO Program. GOES-T is finishing up testing in preparation for its shipment to the launch site this fall, while critical activities to test communications between the satellite and ground system and rehearse launch procedures continue. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provided critical data for recent severe weather, wildfire, and tropical storm/hurricane events. GeoXO completed its first technical review and is moving forward into the concept and technology development phase of the mission. We issued the RFP for the GeoXO sounder instrument, as well as RFIs for the spacecraft and ocean color and lightning mapping instruments. As we work toward completing the GOES-R mission, we are also full steam ahead on bringing GeoXO to fruition.
Wildfires continue to rage in the western U.S. Some of the fires are so intense, they’re creating their own severe weather. NOAA satellites are monitoring wildfire conditions as well as fire-generated storms. Intense heating by wildfires can generate a smoke-infused thunderstorm or pyrocumulonimbus cloud. These clouds can produce lightning and generate strong winds, making it more difficult to contain the spread of fire. In rare instances, they can even spawn a tornado. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon produced a tornado on July 18, 2021. When wildfires spawn severe weather, dangerous conditions become even worse. NOAA satellites are our eyes in the sky, detecting and monitoring wildfires as well as storms created by the most intense fires.
Lightning is a major hazard. It’s a significant threat to life and property, can ignite wildfires, and impacts travel. Lightning can strike at any time, but it is most common in the summer months. The GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the first instrument of its kind in geostationary orbit, has revolutionized lightning detection. Now, GLM can not only detect current lightning activity, but its data can also help predict the occurrence of lightning in the future. To accomplish this, a sophisticated machine-learning algorithm was trained, using GLM data, to recognize complex patterns in GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) imagery that often precede lightning activity detected by GLM. The new tool can accurately predict lightning up to 60 minutes before the first observation of lightning flashes.
Sunglint from solar panels is often observed in satellite imagery. While an interesting phenomenon to see, there’s actually an important connection between satellite observations and solar energy production. Detailed data about clouds from NOAA satellites can aid solar energy forecasts. Clouds affect the output of solar power generation systems. GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West) monitor what types of clouds are present, how they are distributed in the sky, how much shadow they are creating over solar farms, and where they will move next. This provides valuable information about the variations that can occur in power production over the next few minutes to hours. As demand for solar energy grows, the need for timely, detailed information about solar radiation and cloud cover is essential. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide critical data for harnessing solar energy and efficiently delivering it to consumers.
Wildfire activity amid extreme heat and drought has resulted in smoke blanketing much of the United States and Canada. NOAA satellites are monitoring the fires and their smoke output as well as the effects of the smoke on air quality, visibility, and weather. The satellite data are critical for forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders.
The western U.S. has seen record-breaking high temperatures over the past week as a heat dome, or mass of warm air, blankets the Pacific Northwest. This essentially occurs when a “mountain” or “dome” of warm air rises into the atmosphere, gets pinched off by the jet stream, and blocks new weather systems from moving in. The extreme heat, coupled with a severe drought this spring and summer in the region, has combined to significantly raise the risk of wildfire from both human and natural hazards, such as lightning. As the drought and heat wave stretches on, vegetation in these areas dries out, creating ample fuel for potential wildfires. But how dry is it? Learn how NOAA satellites help monitor fires and fire weather conditions that can lead to increased likelihood of them occurring.
NOAA’s GOES-T will replace GOES-17 in the GOES West position, following a successful launch and checkout period, top NOAA officials announced. The decision to place GOES-T into operational service as soon as possible after launch is a result of the blockage in the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the key instrument on GOES-17.
This past weekend, NOAA satellites closely monitored Tropical Storm Claudette, the third named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Claudette slammed into the Gulf and southeastern coasts of the U.S., causing severe damage in parts of the Deep South. The storm was officially named on June 19 after it organized and strengthened near the town of Houma in southeastern Louisiana. It is the fifth-earliest third-named storm to form in the Atlantic basin since 1950.
Fire weather is heating up across the western United States, exacerbated by an intense heatwave and ongoing severe drought. NOAA satellites are monitoring numerous wildfires and keeping watch on areas primed for ignition. As of June 17, 2021, 33 large fires are currently active, burning more than 400,000 acres in 10 states. NOAA satellites zoomed in on several of the major fires burning in the western U.S, including the Telegraph and Mescal Fires in southeastern Arizona, Pack Creek and Bear Fires in Utah, and the Robertson Draw Fire in Montana. Data from the satellites help forecasters monitor drought conditions, locate hot spots, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, predict a fire’s motion, and monitor smoke and air quality.
NOAA satellites captured actinoform clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean on June 3, 2021. These collections of shallow clouds, organized in a distinctive radial pattern, often appear as leaf-like or reminiscent of wagon wheel spokes. They are commonly observed over open water in the Pacific Ocean, in areas where stratocumulus clouds form. These cloud formations are usually so large that they cannot be seen from below. They were first observed in 1962, by NASA’s TIROS V satellite. It’s not yet clearly understood how these complex clouds organize, and studying these clouds with NOAA’s advanced satellite sensors may lead to important new insights about our atmosphere.
The 2021 hurricane season is officially underway. June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season; the eastern Pacific season began on May 15. 2020’s Atlantic season was the busiest on record with a total of 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes. And NOAA is predicting another above-average Atlantic season for 2021. NOAA satellites provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. As hurricane season gets underway, NOAA satellites are vigilantly watching over the Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane basins.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30.
Severe storms struck Louisiana and Texas on May 17, 2021, producing heavy rain, extensive flooding, damaging winds, large hail, and several tornadoes. Hail the size of baseballs was reported near Girard, Texas, and wind gusts of more than 70 mph downed trees and damaged buildings. Torrential rain fell over parts of eastern Texas and Louisiana, producing widespread flooding. At least four people died amid floodwaters after more than a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles and 10 inches in Baton Rouge. GOES-16’s orbit allows the satellite to keep vigilant watch over a fixed area and capture storms in motion. The ability to monitor clouds and atmospheric conditions in near-real time helps forecasters track rapidly changing weather conditions and give advance warning of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.
On May 8, 2021, NOAA satellites captured von Kármán vortices streaming around Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California. These cloud formations often occur over the ocean when islands disrupt the flow of the wind. This disruption creates spiral patterns in the clouds. The pattern of the cloud swirls depends on the wind intensity. NOAA satellites and those from NASA and our international partners observe this phenomenon all over the world. When von Kármán vortices form, satellites capture them in stunning detail.
Severe storms struck Texas on May 3, 2021. They formed along a dry line, where moist air from the Gulf of Mexico met dry air from the Desert Southwest. The storms generated strong straight-line winds, hail, and tornadoes. A variety of GOES-16 and GOES-17 imagery shows the severity of the storms. When severe weather strikes, GOES keep a watchful eye to help identify intensifying storms and track rapidly changing weather conditions.
On March 3, 2021, engineers completed a successful test deployment of the GOES-T solar array as part of a series of tests to prepare the satellite for a planned December 2021 launch. This critical test verified that the satellite's large, five-panel solar array — which is folded up when the satellite is launched — will properly deploy when GOES-T reaches geostationary orbit. During this test, engineers unfurled the five panels on rails that simulated the zero-gravity environment of space. Once in orbit, the deployed solar panels will form a single solar array wing to power the satellite using energy from the sun.
To celebrate Earth Day, we are sharing stunning views of our beautiful planet, captured by NOAA satellites. Every day, NOAA satellites provide critical information that keeps us informed and helps us stay safe. From our satellites, we see cloud patterns, severe weather, lightning, hurricanes, ice and snow cover, phytoplankton blooms, fires, dust storms, and more. At NOAA, every day is Earth Day.
“This Week in Weather” is now “Earth from Orbit.” We’ve updated the name of our weekly video series to better reflect NOAA satellites’ vast capabilities that extend beyond weather.
On the morning of April 9, 2021, La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent began erupting, spewing ash at least 25,000 feet in the air. The volcano continued to erupt over the next several days, with multiple violent explosions. NOAA satellites captured stunning imagery of the eruptions and provided critical monitoring of the resulting volcanic emissions and ash clouds.
The GOES-R/GEO-XO quarterly newsletter for January – March 2021 is now available. It’s launch year, and our pace and energy are increasing! It’s hard to say what is more remarkable: that in 2021 we are still dealing with the pandemic, or that the pandemic has barely affected our progress. Despite the challenges, the GOES-R/GEO-XO team continues to perform critical work for our nation. GOES-T completed environmental testing and is on track to launch in December. We are moving forward with the GEO-XO Program. We awarded two Phase A Study contracts for the imager and are planning for the Mission Concept Review in June, which will affirm the need for the mission. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provided critical data for recent severe weather, fire, and dust storm events. Our program continues to do a remarkable job of advancing the mission.
On April 3, 2021, NOAA’s GOES-16 and NOAA-20 satellites viewed gravity waves rippling over Western Pennsylvania. Waves form in the atmosphere when air is disturbed, like a stone dropped into a calm pond. The gravity waves seen over Pennsylvania were caused by air being forced upward by hills into a layer of stable air. Gravity causes the air to fall back down, and it begins to oscillate, creating a ripple effect. Learn more about gravity waves in our latest “This Week in Weather” video.
If you’ve ever spent a day at the beach, you’ve probably noticed that the ocean water is constantly moving. Waves cause the ocean to move all day long. And tides cause the ocean to rise and fall twice each day. But what exactly causes high tides and low tides? Learn more in a new video from NOAA SciJinks!
On March 31, 2021, NASA awarded GEO-XO Imager (GXI) Phase A Study contracts to L3Harris Technologies, Inc., and Raytheon Company. These definition-phase study and design development contracts are part of instrument formulation activities for the geostationary satellite mission that will follow GOES-R, GEO-XO. Each company will conduct a one-year study to develop an infrared and visible imaging instrument concept and mature necessary technology. These studies will help define the imager’s potential performance, risks, costs, and development schedule. GEO-XO will be operational in the early 2030s, as the GOES-R mission reaches the end of its lifetime.
From March 17-18, 2021, a severe weather outbreak swept across the Southern U.S. The storms produced damaging winds, large hail, and dozens of tornadoes, including significant EF2 tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. Throughout the event, GOES-16 (GOES East) monitored conditions and tracked the storms in real time. The satellite provided important information on cloud properties, storm structure, and lightning activity within the storms.
NOAA’s GOES-T satellite recently completed a series of rigorous tests to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and orbiting 22,236 miles above Earth. In addition, the mission operations team conducted critical activities to test communications between the satellite and ground system and rehearse launch procedures. GOES-T is on track for a December 2021 launch.
A late-season snowstorm dropped feet of snow in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota from March 13-14, 2021. Record-breaking snowfall was measured in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado. NOAA’s geostationary satellites, GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West), and polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP satellites monitored a low-pressure system in the region and followed its evolution into an historic storm. The satellites allowed scientists to forecast the storm’s path and intensity while providing early warning. They also kept watch throughout the event, monitoring the progression of the storm and resulting snow cover.
From March 7-9, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored numerous fires over the Southern Plains. GOES-16 (GOES East) observed these fires in near-real time. By keeping constant watch over the same area, GOES-16 helps to locate fires, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, and predict its motion. The NOAA-20 satellite captured high-resolution imagery of the fires on March 9. This satellite’s VIIRS instrument has an imager band with high spatial resolution, at 375 meters per pixel, which allows it to detect smaller, lower temperature fires. Together, the satellites monitored both the hot spots and smoke plumes from the fires. Satellites allow for detecting and monitoring a range of fires, providing information about the location, duration, size, temperature, and power output of those fires that would otherwise be unavailable.
On March 1, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored lake-effect clouds flowing over Lake Superior. The satellites captured light snow bands embedded in the clouds. Lake-effect snow occurs when very cold air moves over the warmer waters of a lake. GOES-16 viewed the clouds in motion and tracked convection within them, while NOAA-20 captured the scene in stunning detail when the satellite passed over that afternoon. Specialized GOES-16 imagery distinguished snow/ice (white) from the clouds (yellow). GOES-16 and NOAA-20 work together to provide critical information about clouds for weather forecasts and warnings.
North America is home to several different climate types. That means the continent is also home to a variety of extreme weather events. Although we experience the effects of extreme weather here on Earth’s surface, weather satellites can collect some pretty wild pictures and information about extreme weather from above. Meteorologists use this important information to warn us about extreme weather heading our way. This new article from NOAA SciJinks highlights a few of the most extreme weather events captured over the past few decades by NOAA's GOES satellites.
Just like we experience weather on Earth, there’s weather in space! The Sun may look very constant and quiet from Earth, but it's constantly spewing out a stream of particles called the solar wind. Space weather is activity on the Sun that can affect Earth and interact with our technology. Part of NOAA’s mission is to monitor space weather and provide timely, accurate warnings to help our nation prepare for and minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship. This new video highlights NOAA’s space weather mission, including observations from GOES-16 and GOES-17.
The GOES-R Program, in partnership with the JPSS program, NESDIS, NASA Goddard, and CIRA, debuted a new video series on Feb. 25, 2021, “This Week in Weather,” which will highlight a significant weather or environmental event each week. Our inaugural video, “Tracking Dust in the Wind,” examines a Saharan dust event. From Feb. 17–22, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert as it traveled off the west coast of North Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL), a mass of dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert, can transport dust far away from the Sahara throughout the year. NOAA satellites like the geostationary GOES-16 and GOES-17 and the polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP help forecasters and scientists to continuously monitor the evolution of SAL outbreaks and their effects on the meteorology and climatology of the tropical North Atlantic. NOAA satellites also track aerosols associated with dust storms. Aerosol data from NOAA satellites inform air quality alerts and help air traffic controllers monitor visibility for pilots.
Interested in learning how to process, display, and analyze GOES-R and JPSS satellite data? Join our virtual American Meteorological Society (AMS) short course on March 17 and 18, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Our subject matter experts will show how to use satellite data products to analyze specific environmental scenarios such as severe convection, tropical storms, flooding, fire weather, air quality, and more. Register for the short course here.
For Black History Month, NOAA Satellites sat down with Kevin Fryar, chief of staff at GOES-R, to talk about his formative experiences as an African American in the sciences, along with advice for budding meteorologists of color. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force with over twenty years of experience as a weather decision support specialist, Fryar has also served at both the National Weather Service (NWS) and National Environmental Satellite and Data Information Service (NESDIS/NOAA Satellites) in a variety of roles. Most recently, he has been instrumental in the development of the new GeoXO satellite system (a ground-breaking mission that will advance Earth observations from geostationary orbit), advising on key issues related to disaster preparedness and management. During his interview, Fryar gave an overview of GOES-R’s newest initiative as well as some practical advice on how his military and on-the-job experience made all of the difference in his career.
2020 will be remembered as a time of unprecedented challenges and changes. These circumstances inspired us to push our boundaries and try new things so that we could provide the nation with the most accurate and timely environmental observations with critical expertise. Learn more about our 2020 accomplishments and how our satellites help protect life and property.
Join us in March for a NOAA Live! Virtual Open House and “visit” some of the places where NOAA science happens. Each week, we’ll tour a different NOAA facility through a live webinar and meet the staff that bring NOAA’s mission to life. Our guides will highlight a few cool spots around campus and answer your questions in real time. These free events are geared toward students in grades 2 through 8, and they’re perfect for classrooms and families. Registration is limited so sign up today!
NOAA’s satellite fleet, renowned for being the backbone of weather forecasts, also played a pivotal role in rescuing 304 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2020 through other capabilities that fly on these satellites. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, or COSPAS-SARSAT, which uses a network of U.S. and international spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals sent from emergency beacons from aircraft, boats and handheld Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) anywhere in the world.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for October – December 2020 is now available. 2020 was an unforgettable year – for all the wrong reasons. Besides COVID-19 and social injustice, both of which affected the GOES-R/GeoXO family, last year also brought a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season and a record-smashing western wildfire season. As usual, our team rose to the challenge and delivered the mission. GOES-16 and GOES-17 continue to provide critical data to forecasters and GOES-T is in test preparing for a December launch. We’re also planning for the future beyond GOES-R. We’ve renamed the mission Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) to better reflect the advanced observations of atmosphere and ocean we plan for the GeoXO constellation. We are looking forward to the GeoXO Mission Concept Review in March and formalizing the program.
Throughout 2020, NOAA celebrated its golden anniversary as one of the world’s premier science agencies—that’s 50 years of science, service, and stewardship. As part of this milestone, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service is looking back at 50 years of images from space. These images represent the whole spectrum of what Earth-observing satellites provide: life-saving weather information, essential atmospheric and environmental data, critical hurricane updates, near-real-time wildfire detection, and much more.
Have fun learning about weather and satellites with a new GOES-R activity book full of puzzles, coloring pages, and other activities!
This new activity sends students on a quest for weather knowledge. Your task is to go on a scavenger hunt to learn all about weather–from snowflakes to firestorms, to hurricanes and many things in between! In this activity, you will adventure between articles on the NOAA SciJinks website, learning all about Earth’s many weather phenomena and gathering the missing words or phrases needed to assemble a secret word.
Jim Kossin is an atmospheric research scientist at NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate, part of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). His research focuses on extreme storms—in particular tropical cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons)—and their relationship with climate and climate change. The NOAA Satellites team recently sat down with Jim to look back at the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season as it draws to a close.
The historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is drawing to a close. NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlooks accurately predicted a high likelihood of an above-normal season with a strong possibility of it being extremely active. In total, the 2020 season produced 30 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 13 became hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or greater), including six major hurricanes (top winds of 111 mph or greater). This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record. While the official hurricane season concludes on November 30, tropical storms may continue to develop past that day.
NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have a long history of monitoring the Earth’s ever-changing weather from above. Now, some of that history will be put on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Two instruments from GOES-Q have been sitting in storage for years, essentially collecting dust instead of weather data. GOES-Q was originally designed to be part of the GOES-N Series. However, because the existing satellites were performing well past their expected lifetimes, construction of the GOES-Q satellite was cancelled in 2002 after its flight imager and sounder were already manufactured. This year they were retired to the National Collection of the Smithsonian Institute, where they will be incorporated into two modernized exhibits that are being constructed at the Air and Space Museum, which is currently undergoing a major seven-year renovation.
With less than a month remaining in the Atlantic hurricane season, the formation of Subtropical Storm Theta on November 10 over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean made the 2020 season the most active on record. Theta — the 29th named storm of the Atlantic season — breaks the record for the highest number of tropical/subtropical storms in a single year. The previous record of 28 storms was set in 2005. Official records date to 1851. The Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on November 30, but additional storms could develop beyond that date. Forecasters at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center continuously monitor the tropics for storm development and activity.
Clouds are often one of the first things we notice when we look up into the sky. They’re all made of water droplets or ice crystals, but they can take on lots of different appearances. Different types of clouds include cumulus, altocumulus, cirrocumulus, altostratus, nimbostratus and cumulonimbus clouds. Learn more about different types of clouds in a new video from NOAA SciJinks.
With a little more than a month left in the official Atlantic Hurricane Season, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service reminds you not to let your guard down. Despite being at the end of the season’s peak window, late October has occasionally produced devastating hurricanes that have hit the United States and elsewhere. Late-October hurricanes can unleash a mighty fury; and when they do, NOAA satellites are continuously monitoring their track and strength.
A new resource, “Beginner’s Guide to GOES-R Series Data,” is now available to help new end-users acquire, analyze and visualize GOES-R L1b and L2+ data products. This toolkit includes an overview of the GOES-R Series and data products, how to access GOES-R data and imagery, how to display the data, and frequently asked questions.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for July – September 2020 is now available. The GOES-R Program continues to make outstanding progress while overcoming current challenges as a team. GOES-T is fully assembled and in thermal vacuum testing. The ground system server replacement is now fully underway. GOES-16 and 17 are providing critical data for the unprecedented fire conditions in the Western U.S. and record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. GEO-XO planning continues to move forward. The program is working to determine initial Level 1 requirements by the end of this calendar year and preparing to issue the RFP for the GEO-XO Imager Phase A study contracts in November. The team continues to engage users and stakeholders to gather feedback on their needs from future NOAA satellite systems through workshops, surveys, listening sessions, and interviews. A successful Community Meeting on NOAA Satellites closed out the quarter, bringing together more than 1,000 people to share their input on what the GEO-XO system could be.
October 2020 will offer a rare celestial treat—a full Harvest Moon on October 1 and a second full “Blue Moon” on Halloween night. While Blue Moons occur about every two or three years, the last time there was a Blue Moon on October 31 in all U.S. time zones was back in 1944. NOAA’s satellites have a unique relationship with Earth’s natural satellite. They use the moon’s reflected sunlight, gravitational pull, and orbital position to their advantage--and although not specifically designed to do so, NOAA satellites occasionally catch breathtaking glimpses of the moon from their perspective in space. Both GOES-16 and GOES-17 scan the moon regularly to help calibrate the Advanced Baseline Imager’s visible channels. The moon is a very stable and predictable target with no atmosphere.
A team of scientists and engineers from NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) has been awarded the Gears of Government President’s Award for leadership and excellence in restoring the functionality of NOAA’s new GOES-17 weather satellite, following a major post-launch anomaly. Pam Sullivan, Dan Lindsey, Harry Cikanek, Joseph Pica, and Vanessa Griffin used a coordinated approach with innovative techniques to restore the satellite’s ability to observe critical weather conditions across the Western Hemisphere, such as severe storms, hurricanes, fires, and volcanic activity, with minimal data loss. This team’s response to the crisis restored the value of the nation’s $1 billion investment and provided a vital asset for meeting the National Weather Service’s mission.
GOES-T, the third satellite in NOAA’s GOES-R Series, is fully assembled and beginning a set of rigorous tests to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and the space environment in which it will reside once it reaches geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth. GOES-T recently began thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the extreme temperatures of launch and the space environment. A new feature story highlights the environmental, mechanical, end-to-end, and electromagnetic tests GOES-T will undergo to prepare it for launch. GOES-T is currently scheduled to launch in December 2021 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NOAA announced on September 15, 2020 that the solar minimum between Solar Cycles 24 and 25 – the period when the sun is least active – happened in December 2019. We are now officially in Solar Cycle 25 with peak sunspot activity expected in 2025, according to the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, co-chaired by NOAA and NASA. Solar Cycle 24 was average in length, at 11 years, and had the 4th-smallest intensity since regular record keeping began with Solar Cycle 1 in 1755. It was also the weakest cycle in 100 years. Solar maximum occurred in April 2014 with sunspots peaking at 114 for the solar cycle, well below average, which is 179. For the past eight months, activity on the Sun has steadily increased, indicating we transitioned to Solar Cycle 25. Solar Cycle 25 is forecast to be a fairly weak cycle, the same strength as cycle 24. Learn more about what it means to be in a new solar cycle.
The Sun is Earth’s nearest star—a giant orb of hydrogen and helium about 93 million miles away. To many people, it looks like the same constant ball of light day after day as it moves across the sky. However, our Sun actually goes through a cycle of increasing and decreasing activity that lasts for about 11 years.
Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast. Learn about five notable instances when this has occurred and their effects.
NOAA’s science isn’t just limited to Earth and its atmosphere. NOAA’s reach goes from the surface of the Sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them. So, what sort of instruments help scientists detect what’s going on in the Sun in the first place?
A La Nina climate pattern has developed and is likely to persist through the winter, according to an advisory issued on September 10, 2020, by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. La Nina — translated from Spanish as “little girl”— is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator. La Nina can contribute to an increase in Atlantic hurricane activity by weakening the wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Basin, which enables storms to develop and intensify.
Wind is a part of weather that we’ve all experienced at one time or another. And whether it’s a welcome breeze on a hot day, or a destructive gust during a storm, it all starts in the same way: differences in air pressure. Learn more about what causes wind and how satellites measure it in a new video from NOAA SciJinks.
NOAA’s GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) satellites are known for providing critical data to incident meteorologists, emergency managers, and first responders to detect fires, identify their locations, and track them in near-real-time. Now, they’re also helping show the public where active wildfires are located so they can avoid dangerous areas. A new Google feature uses satellite data to guide the mapping of fire boundaries and assist in providing official updates and alerts. The maps are updated hourly to provide the latest available information. The advanced data and information GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide continue to make possible new and innovative ways to help keep us informed and stay safe.
Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early and busy start this year and has been breaking records along the way. On August 6, NOAA issued its updated 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, predicting the possibility of an “extremely active” Atlantic Basin hurricane season. So far, the 2020 season has indeed been an active one, with eleven named storms through August 14. In fact, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record. As we head into the peak of hurricane season, a new feature story takes a look at the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season so far and the critical information NOAA satellites provide for forecasting and tracking tropical storms and hurricanes.
NOAA is currently formulating plans for the satellite programs that will follow GOES-R, JPSS, and SWFO and be operational in 2030 and beyond. We would like to hear from you – our data users, partners, and stakeholders – to help inform these important decisions. Please join us September 29 – October 2 for a virtual 2020 Community Meeting on NOAA Satellites, where you will hear about the strategic objectives of NESDIS as well as current activities and future plans for the Geostationary and Extended Orbits (GEO-XO), Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), and Space Weather programs.
Session topics will also include NOAA ground system evolution, updates from international meteorological agencies, and recent feedback from our users about what they need from future observing systems. We will have dedicated discussion time throughout the meeting in order to hear from you, and we are planning “lean in” sessions where we will invite community members to share their thoughts about NOAA’s future observing systems. Visit the 2020 Community Meeting on NOAA Satellites website for more information and to register for the meeting.
Atmospheric and oceanic conditions are primed to fuel storm development in the Atlantic, leading to what could be an “extremely active” season, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. On August 6, 2020, the agency released its annual August update to the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, initially issued in May. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already off to a rapid pace with a record-setting nine named storms so far and has the potential to be one of the busiest on record. The updated outlook calls for 19-25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 7-11 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 3-6 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, and includes the nine named storms to date
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for April – June 2020 is now available. As we continue operations with most personnel working remotely and on-site work limited to mission critical activities, the GOES-R team continues to shine. We delivered the GOES-T ABI and GLM instruments and integrated them with the spacecraft. We completed testing of the Goddard Magnetometers and they will ship this month. GOES-T is preparing for environmental testing. We are restarting work at NOAA operational facilities to support current GOES-16/17 operations, GOES-T launch preparations, and a ground system upgrade. Our satellites continue to provide critical data and imagery to forecasters.
NOAA maintains a fleet of satellites to monitor Earth’s weather, environment and climate. These satellites provide essential data that feed forecasts and warn us of severe weather and environmental hazards. There are two primary types of satellites used for weather forecasts: geostationary and polar-orbiting. Together, they make a powerful team. Each provides critical information about severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, and flooding, as well as wildfires, smoke plumes, volcanic eruptions, and dust storms. Different vantage points, imaging frequency, and instrumentation provide complementary measurements for a complete picture of what’s happening on Earth.
On June 25, 2020, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) certified two new lightning “megaflash” records. A panel of experts confirmed new world records for the longest reported distance for a single lightning flash (440 miles) in Brazil in 2018, and the longest duration of a single lightning flash (16.73 seconds) in Argentina in 2019. Data from the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) was used to verify the records.
As we move through the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, you will no doubt hear a lot about the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) —a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer and early fall. This layer can travel and impact locations thousands of miles away from its African origins. NOAA Satellite and Information Service sat down with scientist Dr. Jason Dunion, a University of Miami hurricane researcher working with NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, to talk about the SAL. They also discussed how forecasters and scientists monitor and study the SAL using data from several satellites, including GOES-16, NOAA-20, and the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP.
The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise. A new video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 120 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. A fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including those from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series (GOES-R), provides remarkable advances in hurricane forecasting. This satellite technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity.
The incredible 2005 Atlantic hurricane season broke many long-standing records. It began on June 8, with Tropical Storm Arlene, one of 27 named storms that formed during that unprecedented hurricane season. Since 2005, a new generation of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites has provided NOAA with state-of-the-art data and imagery for tropical storms and hurricanes. Take a look back at that record-breaking season—and see what NOAA satellites are providing for 2020.
GOES satellites are known for providing critical data to weather forecasters, but the information they collect can also help the renewable energy sector. The detailed data GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) provide about clouds is useful for forecasting solar energy production. Clouds affect the output of ground-based solar power generation systems. Information from the satellites can be used to track the motion of clouds, predict the passage of cloud shadows, and estimate the amount of sunlight reaching solar energy systems. This data is crucial for harnessing solar energy and efficiently delivering it to consumers.
Hurricane forecast models got an upgrade this year, thanks to new satellite data. For the first time, GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) data are being fed into NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) computer model used to forecast the track and intensity of tropical cyclones. This year, high-resolution wind data from GOES-16 and GOES-17 is included in the model. The ability to characterize the wind fields in and around a hurricane is crucial to predicting future storm motion and intensity.
The GOES-16 (GOES East) Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) observed two solar flares on the morning of May 29, the first significant solar activity observed since October 2017. This may be a sign of the sun's solar cycle ramping up and becoming more active. As the sun moves through its natural 11-year cycle, in which its activity rises and falls, sunspots rise and fall in number, too. NASA and NOAA track sunspots in order to determine, and predict, the progress of the solar cycle — and ultimately, solar activity. Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it's key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. It takes at least six months of solar observations and sunspot-counting after a minimum to know when it's occurred. Because that minimum is defined by the lowest number of sunspots in a cycle, scientists need to see the numbers consistently rising before they can determine when exactly they were at the bottom. That means solar minimum is an instance only recognizable in hindsight: It could take six to 12 months after the fact to confirm when minimum has actually passed. This new sunspot activity could be a sign that the sun is possibly revving up to the new cycle and has passed through minimum.
An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
Researchers from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies have greater confidence that warming surface temperatures and increasing tropical cyclone intensity appear to go hand-in-hand. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) indicates a significant global increase in hurricane intensity over a four-decade period, showing the emergence of more significant findings than previous work. New algorithms indicate future years could be among the warmest, and according to a statistical analysis, the year 2020 is very likely to rank among the five warmest years on record.
On May 18, 1980, iconic Mount St. Helens erupted in southwestern Washington state in the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. In a new feature story, take a look back at the eruption as viewed by GOES-3 and see how far satellite monitoring of volcanic activity has come since then. This feature also highlights some of the most compelling volcano imagery NOAA has collected over the last four decades.
While the global average number of tropical cyclones each year has not budged from 86 over the last four decades, climate change has been influencing the locations of where these deadly storms occur, according to new NOAA-led research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. New research indicates that the number of tropical cyclones has been rising since 1980 in the North Atlantic and Central Pacific, while storms have been declining in the western Pacific and in the South Indian Ocean. Three forces are influencing where storms are hitting: greenhouse gases, particulate pollution and other aerosols, and volcanic eruptions.
It's National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Each day has a preparedness theme with important tips to help you prepare. Be ready for hurricane season by determining your personal hurricane risk, finding out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and reviewing/updating insurance policies. You can also make a list of items to replenish hurricane emergency supplies and start thinking about how you will prepare your home for the coming hurricane season. Hurricane season begins May 15 in the eastern Pacific, and June 1 for the central Pacific and Atlantic. Visit the National Weather Service Hurricane Preparedness webpage to learn about hurricane hazards and safety and learn how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day! Shortly after the first Earth Day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was created along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were also passed. Today, more than 1 billion people in 193 countries participate in Earth Day activities, raising awareness about critical environmental issues. In celebration of Earth Day, NOAA takes a look at just how far geostationary satellite technology has come since 1970, when the first geostationary satellite, ATS-1 was launched.
A new article from NOAA SciJinks, published April 15, explains trade winds. Wind often blows in different directions, but many are quite predictable. For example, the trade winds are air currents closer to Earth’s surface that blow from east to west just north and south of the equator. The winds help ships travel west, and they can also steer storms such as hurricanes, too. GOES East keeps an eye on how trade winds impact the movement of hurricanes and tropical storms toward the southeastern United States.
Flooding within the Red River of the North basin straddling the North Dakota and Minnesota border is very common this time of year. On April 10, 2020, major flooding was occurring over much of the Red River and its tributaries due to seasonal snow melt. GOES-16 satellite imagery and river flood products aided the National Weather Service Grand Forks Weather Forecast operations by providing excellent details in gauging flooding impacts from river and overland flooding.
On April 13, 2020, NESDIS announced the first in a series of contract awards to develop mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future Earth observation capabilities. The new concepts NESDIS is considering in this initial round are atmospheric temperature and pressure sounding observations in low earth orbit (LEO) and broader mission approaches for geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and extended orbits (GEO-XO). NESDIS will use the results of these analyses to inform the design, acquisition, development, and launch of a cost-effective, agile satellite architecture to support NOAA’s mission in the coming decades.
These contracts follow a pair of Broad Agency Announcements NESDIS issued last Fall, calling for ideas from the commercial and research sector. After a formal review of the white papers over this past winter, NESDIS directed Requests for Proposals to selected entities. NESDIS will award additional contracts over the next month and anticipates completing these analyses this year.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for January – March 2020 is now available. Our work environment changed dramatically in March with the arrival of COVID-19. With most personnel working remotely, and on-site work limited to mission-critical operations, we had to adapt how we accomplished our mission. No surprise that the GOES-R team rose to the challenge! Despite the uncertainty and changing work conditions, we continue to accomplish major program milestones.
The Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system is recognized by emergency responders and related governmental organizations every year on April 6 because it tracks 406 MHz distress signals from transmitters and beacons from around the globe. In 2019, SARSAT helped rescue 421 people in and around the U.S. and its territories. NOAA’s fleet of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites—such as the JPSS and GOES-R series— is part of a network of international spacecraft that are designed to detect and locate distress signals from anywhere on Earth.
On April 1, 1960, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched TIROS-1, the world’s first successful meteorological satellite. Since then, NASA and NOAA have worked together to launch satellites that track clouds, oceans, carbon dioxide, atmospheric ozone and more. The latest generation of satellites, GOES-R and JPSS, monitor lightning flashes, hurricanes, wildfires, sea ice, electric lights, solar activity and so much more! These satellites are significantly enhancing our understanding of the Earth as a whole system. A new story map looks at the value and importance of the nation's weather satellites and game-changing moments in their 60-year history.
The swirling, funnel-shaped winds of a tornado are easily recognizable—and they can be very dangerous. But what causes these unique and violent weather phenomena? A new animated video explains how a tornado forms and also how satellites like GOES-16 help forecasters warn us when severe weather might lead to a tornado. Learn more about tornadoes from our partners at SciJinks.
Spring brings the promise of warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and more people getting outside after being cooped up all winter. Thanks to NOAA satellites, we can see how Earth sheds its winter coat from space this time of year. From melting snow to greening vegetation, signs of spring are becoming apparent. Satellites also monitor the changing weather patterns that come with the transition from winter to spring. The potential for severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, dangerous lightning, and flooding increases in the spring months. According to NOAA’s 2020 Spring Flood and Climate Outlook, released on March 19, much of the country is looking at above-normal precipitation and an enhanced risk of flooding this spring. GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) are equipped to provide detailed information about the atmosphere and clouds in near real-time to help forecasters provide early warnings of hazardous weather.
This year’s vernal equinox is the earliest in 124 Years. The last time the vernal equinox occurred this early was in 1896, so it is the earliest spring anyone alive today has ever experienced—and it will occur even earlier in the future. Why did it occur so early this year? It has to do with leap years. This year, the equinox will occur at 11:49 p.m. EDT, March 19, signifying the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. During the precise moment of the equinox, daytime and nighttime will be nearly equal across the entire planet. From that point on, the Northern Hemisphere will experience earlier sunrises and longer daytimes, and the Southern Hemisphere will experience later sunrises and earlier sunsets.
GOES-16 and GOES-17, also known as GOES East and GOES-West respectively, provide beautiful images of Earth. However, what you see on your television, computer, and mobile device are digital representations of the data these satellites capture, not actual photographs or videos. A new feature story explains how satellite data is translated into imagery. A lot goes on behind the scenes to create and deliver this colorful imagery, but these enhancements result in more than just a pretty picture. This vivid imagery conveys complex environmental information from large satellite datasets to highlight the presence and evolution of important meteorological phenomena.
Hurricanes are growing more powerful more quickly, according to a study of intensification rates by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and research partners. And these powerful storms cause public health crises that disproportionately impact socioeconomically disadvantaged nations—an instance of “environmental injustice”—described in a Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine co-authored by an NCEI scientist.
Uncovering never-before-seen deep sea coral habitat, applying machine learning to severe weather warnings and fish survey data, and upgrading the U.S. global weather forecast model — these are just a few of NOAA’s scientific achievements in 2019. The newly-released NOAA Science Report highlights the ways these accomplishments — and many more — provide the foundation for vital services that Americans use every day. The report celebrates NOAA’s vital ocean, weather, Great Lakes, and atmospheric research, and how it works to protect lives and property, support a vibrant economy, and strengthen national security. GOES-16 and GOES-17 data contribute to many NOAA science applications.
Students from grades 6-14 are invited to participate in the GOES-R Education Proving Ground GOES-16/17 2020 Virtual Science Fair. Students will use data from the GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites to investigate weather and natural hazards. There will one winning team in each of three categories: middle school, high school and grades 13/14 (community college or university). Each team will consist of 2-4 students and 1 teacher/coach per entry. Entries will be accepted March 1 – May 22, 2020.
Students from the winning teams will receive $25 gift cards and official GOES-T launch viewing invitations to Kennedy Space Center (but no travel support). Teachers coaching the winning teams will garner GOES-T launch invites (no travel support) and conference travel support to attend and present at the 2021 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Centennial meeting in New Orleans.
The NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations commenced operational implementation of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) mode 3 cooling timeline on February 26 to mitigate the number of saturated images resulting from the loop heat pipe (LHP) temperature regulation anomaly. This cooling timeline will remain in effect until March 1. The timeline occurs for 6 hours, centered on spacecraft midnight from 0600 UTC to 1200 UTC each day. In this timeline, the GOES-17 ABI generates a single full disk once per 15 minutes and generates one mesoscale domain sector (MDS) each minute. Alternating MDS domains are collected one time each per two-minute period. The contiguous United States (CONUS) domain is not scanned during the timeline, as those periods are used for cooling.
The same timeline will occur seasonally in operations for four periods each year. Below are the next three full periods, which will repeat each year with minor adjustments based on future GOES-17 ABI thermal models:
Dates for 2021 are yet to be determined, but will be shared prior to January 2021.
NOAA has completed a review of the many responses from two Broad Agency Announcements, or BAAs, seeking fresh ideas for new instrument technologies and concepts for future use on its next-generation geostationary, extended orbit, and polar-orbiting weather satellites. NOAA will begin to distribute directed Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to selected entities this week. RFP notifications will continue on a rolling basis for several weeks. As the proposals are received and evaluated, NOAA will determine which companies will receive contracts to conduct short-term, focused studies intended to advance the agency's satellite architecture beyond GOES-R and JPSS.
What we know today as NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) was founded 150 years ago on February 9, 1870 – that’s 15 decades of science and service to the country. Since then, weather forecasting has become far more accurate and timely. As NWS celebrates its 150th birthday, NOAA takes a look at 7 tech advancements that changed the way we do weather forecasting, including weather satellites like GOES-16 and GOES-17.
Although the U.S. saw 14 billion-dollar disasters in 2019, many less-extreme weather and climate events occur regularly. No matter how large or small, NOAA’s satellite imagery and data, including that from GOES-16 and GOES-17, were the foundation of 2019’s forecasts. For federal, state, and local emergency managers, those same satellites provided critical, up-to-the-minute information as well. A new feature story highlights how NOAA satellites bring better data for weather prediction and provide a more comprehensive scope of disasters after they happen.
GOES-15 supplemental operations to GOES-17 will be extended to March 2, 2020 (previously scheduled to end January 31, 2020). After that date, the GOES-15 spacecraft will be placed in standby. GOES-17 will continue operating in the GOES-West role at 137.2 degrees west with all instruments operating nominally. Additionally, GOES-14 supplemental space weather instrument operations will end on March 2, 2020. GOES-14 space weather instruments will be powered off at that time. See December 18, 2019 news item for additional information.
2019 was a busy year for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). NOAA’s exceptional team of experts helped us understand our dynamic planet. GOES-16 and GOES-17 contributed to a successful 2019 by providing access to secure and timely environmental data. GOES-17 became NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite, providing high-resolution real-time visible and infrared imagery of the west coast of the contiguous U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and much of the Pacific Ocean. GOES-16 and GOES-17 monitored extreme weather events from hurricanes to wildfires, and kept an eye on the sun during eclipses, solar flares, and the Mercury transit.
The same NOAA satellites that helped forecasters track weather and wildfires were also critical in rescuing a record 421 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2019. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the global Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System, or COSPAS-SARSAT, which uses a network of U.S. and international spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons aboard aircraft, boats and from handheld Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) anywhere in the world. In addition to carrying instruments for monitoring our atmosphere, land and oceans for severe weather and other hazards, GOES-16 and GOES-17 also carry SARSAT transponders to help locate people in distress.
Weather refers to the short-term conditions of the atmosphere at any given time. Climate refers to the long-term patterns of weather that occur in a specific place over many years, decades and centuries. This poster explains the factors that drive weather and climate.
Earth’s warming trend continued in 2019, making it the second-hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016. The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). It was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average. NASA scientists, who conducted a separate but similar analysis, concurred with NOAA’s ranking. NASA also found that 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded.
Guess who’s turning 50 this year? Throughout 2020, NOAA is celebrating 50 years of science, service and stewardship. Since its inception on October 3, 1970, NOAA has become one of the world’s premier science agencies with a mission that spans from the surface of the sun to the floor of the ocean. Our science has never been more important for our lives and our planet. See where we’ve been and where we’re going.
NOAA’s year-end climate analysis was released on January 8, 2019. It was another year of record-making weather and climate for the U.S. in 2019, which was the second wettest behind 1973. The nation also experienced 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. The extreme weather with the most widespread impact was the historically persistent and destructive U.S. flooding across more than 15 states. The combined cost of just the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi River basin flooding ($20 billion) was almost half of the U.S. cost total in 2019.
The GOES-R Series Program quarterly newsletter for October – December 2019 is now available. The GOES-R Program ended 2019 on a high note. GOES-16 and GOES-17 continue operational service, providing critical weather data for the nation. Our team continues to make great progress building GOES-T and U and upgrading our ground system. The Geostationary and Extended Orbits (GEO-XO) program is officially underway, authorized to move into the conceptual phase of the mission. The team looks forward to presenting our work and connecting with colleagues at the upcoming 100th American Meteorological Society Meeting in Boston. Here’s to a productive and successful 2020 for the GOES-R and GEO-XO Programs!
Jet streams are bands of strong wind that generally blow from west to east all across the globe. They impact weather, air travel and many other things that take place in our atmosphere. Learn more about the jet stream and how the GOES-R Series monitors jet streams in a new video and article.
Dec. 13-17, 2021
New Orleans, LouisianaMeeting Info