National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently launched a weather satellite called GOES-16 (formerly known as GOES-R), and it has pictures of our beautiful planet Earth that are sure to make your jaw drop!
GOES, which stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, is part of the latest fleet of Earth-monitoring satellites and is a major technological advance for NOAA. The satellite is capable of sending high-definition photos every 15 minutes back to the earth, meaning it can be used to cover and send weather updates better than ever before!
Below is one of the most detailed full-disk pictures of Earth ever taken! This mindblowing picture, taken on January 5 at ET 1:07 pm, is reportedly four times more detailed than any other full-disk view of the planet.
Louis Uccellini, who is the director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, said in a press release that
“the view is much more than a pretty picture … it is the future of weather observations and forecasting”.
GOES-16 was sent on its journey on 19 November 2016 and has been sent to orbit that is about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above Earth, also known as the geostationary orbit. To give you a comparison, the International Space Station orbits the Earth from about 220 miles (350 kilometres), so this is a massive altitude.
The geostationary orbit means that the satellite can stay at the same spot since it travels at the same speed as that of our planet, and monitor the atmosphere, ground, and any incoming weather extremities over time, according to NOAA.
At the end of 2017, GOES-16 will finish its current testing phase and will replace either GOES-15 (or GOES-WEST) or GOES-13 (GOES-EAST), which have been up in the space since 2006 and 2010, respectively.
The GOES-16 can capture images in a wavelength that can’t be seen by any normal cameras, giving photos four times the resolution of any previous satellite. It is also capable of sending them back five times more frequently.
This means the meteorologists at NOAA will be getting the latest full-disk view of the western hemisphere after every 15 minutes, a fresh look on the continental US after every 5 minutes, and will be able to track weather systems (like hurricanes) every 30 seconds.
Uccellini added on,
“these views will provide sharper and more detailed views of hazardous weather systems and reveal features that previous instruments might have missed, and the rapid-refresh of these images will allow us to monitor and predict the evolution of these systems more accurately”.
What’s the practical advantage?
“[F]orecasters can issue more accurate, timely, and reliable watches and warnings, and provide better information to emergency managers and other decision,” Uccellini said.
Below are some of the high def images
North America captured with its giant, rainy, snowy weather system moving across the United States:
Raw image data from GOES-16:
The satellite uses two visible-light channels, which are composited to create the images we can decipher. It also has four near-infrared channels. Ten other infrared channels can single out
“differences in the atmosphere like clouds, water vapour, smoke, ice and volcanic ash”, according to NOAA.
GOES-16 uses the Moon to calibrate its images:
Florida, the Caribbean, and part of Central America:
The US Northeast:
The western United States:
Central America’s Yucatan Peninsula:
Dust from the Saharan Desert blowing into the Atlantic Ocean (from right to left):
GOES 16 vs GOES 13 Results:
South America, Argentina. An incoming storm can be seen from the northeast, while the gravity waves are easily visible in the southwest: