In November 2016, NASA launched the GOES-16 weather satellite into Earth’s geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles above ground level. Before the satellite could send back the first photos, meteorologists had to rely on the more primitive GOES-13 weather satellite’s data that had only five spectral channels that gave out information about the weather front.
However, the GOES-16 comes with three times the spectral channels of its predecessor, four-time its resolution, and a fivefold overall efficiency. From now on, scientists expect to receive more data that will be used to validate climate and weather models for a better understanding of Mother Nature’s change of pace.
Up until now, the weather satellites, including GOES-16’s forefather, were not able to clearly distinguish smoke, ice, clouds, or fog from each other. Senior scientists for the GOES-R program, Steve Goodman says that before GOES-16’s first images were received, the scientists had a hard time figuring out cloud evolution processes and validating climate and weather models.
Steve Goodman expects that all weather models the scientists at NASA have analyzed so far, before receiving the latest pieces of information, are, to a certain degree, corrupted. Nevertheless, he is confident the GOES-16 will bring about much-needed change.
The improved weather satellite comes with 16 spectral channels. Ten of them are infrared, two visible, and four near-infrared. On top of that, scientists will be able to predict weather changes more accurately thanks to heightened resolution capable of picking up on almost anything from sulfur dioxide emissions resulted from volcanic eruptions to melting snowpacks.
General manager and vice president of environmental solutions and space and intelligence systems for Harris – responsible for building the GOES-16 – Eric Webster says this kind of resolution would allow someone in New York City to see the home plate of Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Furthermore, the weather satellite is able to scan the whole planet in just 15 minutes and the U.S. in just under 5. This will allow scientists to provide the population with more accurate information about a major weather event like hurricanes or tornadoes. Eris Webster says more accurate predictions, now within scientists’ grasp thanks to GOES-16, will play a major role in saving more lives and properties in the future.
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