3 … 2 … 1 … GOES-O!
If you were near Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 6:51 p.m. EDT on
June 27, you may have witnessed the successful launch
of the GOES-O satellite, NOAA’s newest Geostationary Operational
Environmental Satellite (GOES).
GOES-O was renamed GOES-14 today, when it reached its final
position in orbit.
Hovering at a fixed position 22,500 miles into space,
GOES-14 carries newly enhanced instrumentation included in the GOES
N-O-P series that captures high-definition images — from the seas to
the skies — of severe weather patterns and atmospheric conditions.
Those images will help NOAA’s National Weather Service meteorologists
develop more accurate forecasts and warnings for hurricanes, tornadoes,
floods and even disruptive solar disturbances,
which threaten the Western Hemisphere.
After six months of tests, GOES-14 will join GOES-13 in
what’s known as orbital storage, where it will remain until one
of the currently operational satellites (GOES-11 and GOES-12)
experiences trouble, nears the end of its mission life (typically five
years), or depletes its onboard fuel and is officially retired.
This caching of satellites is NOAA’s way of keeping fresh
satellites at the ready, so that monitoring remains uninterrupted —
something the agency has been doing since 1974, says Gary K. Davis,
director of the Office of Systems Development for NOAA’s
Satellite and Information
Once a satellite successfully completes its orbital tests,
Office of Satellite
Operations takes over command and control from NASA, which
develops and launches NOAA’s satellites. NESDIS’s satellite products —
which encompass much of the environmental satellite data for the United
States — are developed by the Office of Satellite
Data Processing and Distribution and NESDIS's Center
for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR), and distributed to
forecasters at NWS, to other NOAA line offices and to users worldwide.
GOES products are archived at the NOAA Data Centers.
The GOES-0 launch is the second liftoff of a NOAA
satellite this year. In February, the NOAA-19
satellite was thrust into orbit. NOAA-19 and its predecessor,
NOAA-18, are Polar Operational
Environmental Satellites (POES), which continuously orbit the
planet from Pole to Pole. By flying at a height of 540 miles —
significantly lower than the GOES satellites — POES satellites can
detect more subtle changes in atmospheric and oceanic conditions that
can trigger tropical storms, droughts, inland floods, and forest fires.
POES data are used for longer-range forecasts, and are especially
integral to NOAA’s research on climate change.
NOAA Satellites: Not Just About Weather
Data from the agency’s satellites provide significant
contributions beyond weather monitoring.
When distress signals are issued by emergency beacons in
airplanes, boats and hand-held devices, GOES and POES — as part of the International
Search and Rescue
Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system — swiftly locate the
signals and relay them to NOAA’s Satellite
Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md. From there, signals are
sent to either the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Air Force, depending on
whether they require sea or air rescues.
NOAA satellites had a hand in 283 rescues in the United
States in 2008 alone, and more than 6,100 since SARSAT’s inception in
The same GOES data that power NWS forecasts are also
integrated into oceanographic circulation models and ecological
forecasts used by scientists with NOAA’s National Ocean Service. NOAA
Fisheries uses sea-surface temperature data from GOES and POES, for
example, to assess coral reef patterns.
As higher-quality satellite data emerge, NESDIS's Center
for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) is continually
seeking new ways of packaging this data into better products and
As Steve Kirkner, NOAA’s GOES program manager, says, “Whether
you’re building a ship or a satellite, both serve as platforms for
NOAA’s scientific instruments that, in the end, generate valuable data
for decision makers and the research community at large.”
The importance of NOAA’s robust satellite program cannot be
overstated. I thank all NOAA personnel who are helping maintain these
critical observing assets and taking our satellite program to new
You can learn more about GOES, POES and the full portfolio of
NOAA satellites by visiting: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/satellites.html.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA
This message was generated for the Under Secretary of Commerce
Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator by the NOAA
Center/Financial and Administrative