June 21 marked the official start of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice — the longest day and shortest night of the year — occurred at 5:14 a.m. EDT. The summer solstice is the moment the hemisphere reaches its greatest tilt toward the sun. As the Earth rotates on its axis, the North Pole experiences 24 hours of daylight, while the South Pole is obscured in darkness. NOAA’s GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites constantly observe the same region of Earth, allowing a view of the terminator as it moves across the Western Hemisphere. The terminator is the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn. The slope of the terminator curve changes with the seasons.
NOAA’s GOES-18 is now sending back data from its new post-launch testing position over the Pacific Ocean. From its new vantage point, GOES-18 can now see Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean all the way to New Zealand. This location allows it to monitor the northeastern Pacific, where many of the weather systems affecting the continental U.S. originate. GOES-18 has already seen a lot from its new location. Recently, the GOES-18 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) monitored a number of weather events, meteorological phenomena, and environmental hazards. The satellite tracked fire activity in Alaska, snow and the movement of fog and smoke. It monitored a low pressure system off the West Coast and severe thunderstorms in Colorado. GOES-18 also viewed mesmerizing von Kármán vortices off the coast of Isla Guadalupe and beautiful cloud formations over Hawaii. As GOES-18 continues post-launch testing, its ABI will provide critical information for eastern Pacific hurricane forecasters despite not yet being fully operational. After the completion of post-launch testing and checkout, NOAA plans for GOES-18 to replace GOES-17 as the operational GOES West satellite in early 2023.
The 2022 hurricane season is officially underway. The eastern Pacific hurricane season began on May 15, while June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA satellites monitored the first named storms in each hurricane basin. Tropical Storm Agatha formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean on May 28 and rapidly intensified into a Category 2 hurricane. On May 30, Agatha became the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall along the Pacific coast of Mexico in the month of May. Remnants from Agatha helped fuel what would become the Atlantic’s first named tropical storm, Alex, which affected south Florida at the beginning of June. NOAA satellites provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. As the hurricane season ramps up, NOAA satellites are keeping watch.
A team of scientists from NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and South Dakota State University has developed more accurate forecasts to predict the impacts of wildfire smoke on air quality. The method known as Regional Hourly Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Emissions, or RAVE, combines observations from instruments on NOAA’s geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites to calculate estimates of wildfire emissions.
On June 2, NOAA shared striking first imagery from the GOES-18 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). Recently, GLM monitored lightning activity within severe storms across the U.S. The instrument captured significant lightning activity in the derecho that moved across the Northern Plains on May 12-13. GLM helps forecasters identify intensifying storms and captures the evolution of individual storm cells that combine to form massive storm systems. Widespread weather events pose particular challenges for the aviation industry. GLM data helps pilots and air traffic controllers route flights to maximize safety and minimize economic impacts. GOES-18 is undergoing post-launch testing to prepare it for operations. NOAA plans for GOES-18 to begin operating as GOES West in early 2023.
Winners of the 2022 GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair were announced on June 1. In this nationwide virtual science competition, students designed projects that used GOES 16/17 satellite data to investigate weather or natural hazards. Each individual/team shared their project through a scientific poster and a short video presentation. The winning high school project, by Rebecca Liftik of Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, Maryland, examined pyrocumulonimbus clouds in the 2021 Bootleg Fire using GOES-17 data. The winning middle school project, from Eric Sun and Sean Jiang of Gilman Middle School in Baltimore, Maryland, studied the causes of the 2021 California wildfires using GOES-17 data.
On May 11, 2022, NOAA shared the first images of the Western Hemisphere from its GOES-18 satellite. The satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument recently observed a number of weather events, environmental phenomena, and striking views of Earth. Storms across east Texas produced large hail, strong wind gusts, and tornadoes. Farther west in New Mexico, strong winds resulted in large areas of blowing dust and expansion of large wildfires. Fog blanketed parts of Chile in South America, and clouds and some thunderstorms formed along sea breezes in the Yucatan and south Florida. GOES-18, launched on March 1, 2022, is currently undergoing post-launch testing in preparation for transitioning to operations as GOES West in early 2023.
The Goddard Magnetometer (GMAG) instrument, launched aboard NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite on March 1, 2022, is now transmitting magnetic field measurements down to Earth. On April 27, 2022, the GOES-18 GMAG captured a space weather phenomenon known as plasma waves. These waves play a significant role in controlling the levels of dangerous energetic particles that cause damage to satellites and harm astronauts. The GOES-18 GMAG is an upgraded magnetometer instrument that offers improved measurements of Earth’s magnetic field over the magnetometers on GOES-16 and GOES-17.
The Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) instrument onboard NOAA's GOES-18 satellite is now sending radiation data back to Earth. GOES-18 launched on March 1, 2022, and the SEISS sensors have been collecting data continuously since April 25, 2022. The GOES-18 SEISS detected a number of radiation belt disturbances on April 27-29, 2022. Shortly after these observations were seen by the GOES-18 SEISS, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued an alert for a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm, warning of possible risk to satellite systems due to charging.
Since early April 2022, NOAA satellites have been watching wildfires burning across parts of the Southwest and Plains. The two largest fires located in northern New Mexico, the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires, have burned more than 60,000 acres. GOES-17 watched smoke billowing over the region and drifting to areas upwind bringing hazy skies to communities many miles away. GOES-17 and GOES-16 also detected hot spots from the fires in near-real time while providing information on the size and intensity of these fires. NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP captured daytime and nighttime images of the fires. They also took air quality measurements and tracked the movement and thickness of smoke over the region. As fire season starts earlier and ends later, NOAA satellites are keeping watch.
Before we had satellites, we could only imagine what the Earth looked like from above. Our view has come a long way, from changes in technology to how we understand Earth’s systems. Built upon NASA’s pioneering efforts, NOAA’s satellite program continues to improve Earth observations from space. Since 1970, NOAA satellites have monitored Earth's weather, environment, oceans and climate. As NOAA satellites continue to advance, they increase our understanding our planet, because every day at NOAA is Earth Day.
This week, NOAA satellites monitored a large storm system that brought winter weather to some regions and severe weather to others. GOES-17 watched as the system moved eastward across the Pacific Northwest where it brought snow. GOES-16 watched the progression of the storm as the cold air met with the warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. This clash of air masses led to severe weather in multiple states across the Midwest and South. The GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper watched as the storms produced frequent lightning as they marched eastward. The system produced more than 500 reports of damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes throughout the central U.S. The storms finally wound down as the system reached the East Coast.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for January – March 2022 is now available. Congratulations to the team on another successful launch! GOES-T lifted off on March 1, 2022, four years to the day after GOES-S launched. The satellite reached geostationary orbit on March 14 and is now GOES-18. Post-launch testing is now underway and GOES-18 is expected to take its place as the operational GOES West satellite in early 2023. Getting GOES-18 into orbit was a remarkable feat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, the team is busy with GOES-U integration and testing in preparation for launch in 2024 and progressing through GeoXO Phase A activities toward Milestone 2 later this year.
The vernal equinox on March 20, 2022, marked the beginning of astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The spring equinox results in nearly equal daylight and darkness across the planet. During an equinox, the terminator – the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn – is a straight north-south line over the equator. GOES-16 and GOES-17 constantly observe the same region of Earth, allowing a view of the terminator as it moves across the Western Hemisphere. Earth’s seasons change due to the tilt of the planet’s axis as it orbits the sun. Throughout the year, these satellites observe the markers of seasonal change.
On March 14, 2022, GOES-T executed its final engine burn, placing the satellite in geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth. Upon reaching this milestone, GOES-T was renamed GOES-18. NOAA’s GOES-T satellite launched on March 1, 2022, at 4:38 p.m. EST, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The satellite launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41. The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center.
NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of four advanced geostationary weather satellites, blasted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket at 4:38 p.m. ET today from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After a successful separation from the Centaur upper stage, GOES-T began flying freely. Shortly after, the satellite completed deployment of the stage 1 solar array that will generate electricity for the spacecraft during its mission. GOES-T is orbiting above the Earth, its systems are in good health and it is operating on its own.
GOES-T lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on March 1, 2022, at the opening of the launch window at 4:38 p.m. EST. The spacecraft separated from the Centaur upper stage at 8:11 p.m. EST and first stage solar array deployment occurred at 8:28, with power positive confirmed. View additional photos of the GOES-T launch. Watch the United Launch Alliance GOES-T Launch Highlights video. The NASA live GOES-T launch broadcast and commentary show featured live interviews with NOAA and NASA experts and was co-hosted by NOAA’s Kevin Fryar.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and its GOES-T payload were moved to the launch pad on Feb. 28, 2022, as preparations continue for the March 1 launch from Space Launch Complex 41. View video of the GOES-T rollout. See additional photos in the GOES-T Road to Launch image gallery. NASA Edge provided live coverage of the rollout, including live and pre-recorded interviews with NOAA and NASA experts. Experts interviewed included: Pam Sullivan, GOES-R System Program Director; Ed Grigsby, GOES-R Deputy System Program Director; Dan Lindsey, GOES-R Program Scientist; and Candace Carlisle, GOES-R Flight Project Manager. Watch the NASA Edge Rollout Show.
The GOES-T pre-launch news conference was held Feb. 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing featured experts from NOAA, NASA, United Launch Alliance, and Space Launch Delta 45. The briefing was broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Media participated virtually. Panelists included: Steve Volz, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Services, NOAA; Pam Sullivan, director, GOES-R Program, NOAA; John Gagosian, director, Joint Agency Satellite Division, NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate; Tim Dunn, launch director, NASA’s Launch Services Program, Kennedy Space Center; Scott Messer, program manager, NASA Launch Services, United Launch Alliance; and Jessica Williams, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, Space Launch Delta 45. View video of the pre-launch news conference.
The GOES-T Launch Readiness Review (LRR) was completed on Feb. 26, 2022. The LRR updated the mission status, closed out actions from the Flight Readiness Review and authorized approval to proceed into launch countdown. The Certificate of Flight Readiness (CoFR) was signed at the conclusion of the LRR. GOES-T is a "go" for launch on March 1, 2022.
With the upcoming launch of NOAA’s new GOES-T satellite, staff at ground stations such as NOAA’s Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station (WCDAS) located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility are in full swing preparing for the event. Although Wallops launches smaller rockets as well as research aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and high-altitude balloons, the facility also supports NOAA’s satellite tracking and commanding capabilities. Learn more about what goes on at Wallops before and after a satellite launch.
The GOES-T pre-launch science briefing was held on Feb. 25, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. EST and featured experts from NOAA, NASA, Lockheed Martin and L3Harris. The briefing was broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Media participated virtually. Panelists included: Dr. Dan Lindsey, GOES-R Program Scientist, NOAA; Dr. Jim Yoe, Chief Administrator, Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation, who participated virtually; Candace Carlisle, GOES-R Flight Project Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Tewa Kpulun, Geostationary Lightning Mapper Science Lead, Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Daniel Gall, Advanced Baseline Imager Chief Systems Engineer, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris Technologies. View video of the science briefing.
The GOES-T Mission Dress Rehearsal (MDR) was conducted on Feb. 23, 2022. The MDR was a dry run for launch, allowing the launch team to participate in various simulated launch procedures and activities.
The GOES-T Flight Readiness Review (FRR) was successfully completed on Feb. 22, 2022. The FRR updated the mission status, closed out actions from the Launch Vehicle Readiness Review and Mission Readiness Review, and certified the readiness to proceed with initiation of final launch preparation activities.
A new photo essay highlights the latest operations to prepare GOES-T for launch, including spacecraft encapsulation in its protective fairing, getting the launch vehicle on the stand, and securing the satellite inside its fairing atop the Atlas V rocket. GOES-T is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on March 1, 2022.
NOAA’s GOES-T is scheduled to launch Tuesday, March 1, 20122. The launch, as well as the pre-launch mission and science briefings, and the NASA Edge rollout show, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. At 4:38 p.m. EST on March 1, the two-hour launch window will open, during which GOES-T will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Launch coverage will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST.
On February 17, 2022, GOES-T, secured inside its payload fairing, was transported from its processing location at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. There, the satellite was raised into position atop the Atlas V rocket that will send it into orbit on March 1. View additional photos of the lift and mate operation.
Participate in the GOES-T launch by playing our launch bingo game! Print out the launch bingo cards, watch the GOES-T launch broadcast on NASA TV starting at 4:00 p.m. EST on March 1, 2022, and mark off the words that you hear! Download bingo cards here.
GOES-T will provide critical data for identifying and tracking environmental hazards of particular concern to the western U.S. GOES-T will locate wildfire hot spots, detect changes in fire behavior, predict the motion of fires, estimate a fire’s intensity, and monitor smoke output and air quality effects from smoke. GOES-T can identify the lightning strikes most likely to ignite fires and characterize pyrocumulonimbus clouds that threaten the safety of firefighters.
The GOES-T satellite is now encapsulated the Atlas V fairing. The payload fairing is a specially designed nose cone that, in addition to creating a more aerodynamic profile, encapsulates the satellite, protecting it during the ascent through Earth's atmosphere after launch. GOES-T will soon be moved to Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for mounting atop the Atlas V rocket that will boost the satellite to orbit. Additional photos are available in the GOES-T Road to Launch gallery.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur upper stage was placed atop the Atlas V booster in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) adjacent to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Feb. 7, 2022. The Centaur is the launch vehicle’s “brain,” providing guidance and flight control and containing fuel and oxidizer to insert the vehicle into orbit. Additional photos are available in the GOES-T Road to Launch gallery.
Last month, we challenged kids to draw the GOES-T satellite observing the weather during this time of year where they live. From the hundreds of submissions, we selected 25 to feature.
A cutting-edge new instrument is ready to be installed on NOAA’s GOES-U satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2024. The Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1) instrument was shipped to Lockheed Martin in Waterton, Colorado, after passing its Pre-Shipment Review last month. The team at Lockheed Martin will now begin to install this instrument onto the GOES-U spacecraft. The CCOR-1 will be NOAA’s first-ever solar coronagraph.
Fog and low stratus clouds over airports can create dangerous travel conditions that result in costly delays and disrupted travel plans. The U.S. National Weather Service offices monitor and issue warnings when conditions are favorable for the formation of fog and low-level clouds. These warnings are used by the airlines to anticipate conditions, avoid delays and reroute flights if necessary. Now, the NWS uses a new fog detection software developed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies and NOAA to assist with those warnings. The software uses machine learning techniques with near real-time data from weather satellites like NOAA’s GOES-East and GOES-West to monitor conditions 24/7 and issue potential fog warnings.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has established two new world records for megaflashes of lightning in notorious hotspots in North and South America. Aided by the latest satellite technology from the GOES-R Series Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the WMO recognized the longest distance of a single flash and the greatest duration for a single flash. On April 29, 2020, a mass of severe thunderstorms produced a 477.2-mile-long lightning strike over the southern United States. It stretched from near Houston to southeast Mississippi. The WMO also identified a new world record for the long-lasting lightning flash that lasted for 17.1 seconds over Uruguay and northern Argentina for 17.1 seconds on June 18, 2020. The GLM offers the unique ability to measure lightning flash extent and duration continuously over broad areas.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket that will launch GOES-T into space was placed on its stand in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) adjacent to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Jan. 31, 2022. The Atlas V first stage booster is the backbone of the launch vehicle. It holds the fuel and oxygen tanks that feed the engine for powering the spacecraft into orbit. View additional photos in the GOES-T Road to Launch image gallery.
NOAA’s fleet of advanced satellites are essential for predicting weather and climate, and last year they also helped rescue 330 people from potentially life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters. 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. Since its start in 1982, COSPAS-SARSAT has been credited with supporting more than 48,000 rescues worldwide, including more than 9,700 in the United States and its surrounding waters.
On Jan. 15, 2022 an underwater volcano in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga exploded violently in what was likely the largest recorded eruption on Earth in decades. The eruption generated atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms, and tsunami waves that traveled the world and were heard as far away as Alaska. Satellites operated by NOAA and its international partners play a crucial role in detecting volcanic activity, alerting those in harm’s way of an eruption, and monitoring the hazards associated with volcanic eruptions, including volcanic ash and tsunamis.
Experts from NOAA, NASA, United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin and L3Harris will hold a virtual media briefing on February 1, 2022, to preview the upcoming launch and mission of NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in a series of four advanced geostationary weather satellites.
On January 1, 2022, there were numerous reports of sonic booms in southwestern Pennsylvania. GOES-16’s Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) picked up a large flash that wasn’t associated with a thunderstorm. GLM data indicated the source of the mysterious sound to be a bolide, or large meteor exploding in the atmosphere. The GLM onboard GOES-16 and GOES-17 primarily monitors lightning activity. However, it can also detect bolides, and has captured many of these exploding meteors. Loud booms with no visible source can cause a lot of anxiety – especially in populated areas. When GLM is able to quickly confirm the presence of a bolide, it helps calm fears. GLM constantly keeps watch for both lightning and exploding meteor hazards.
The GOES-R/GeoXO quarterly newsletter for October – December 2021 is now available. Goodbye to 2021, a challenging year, which did not at all deter the GOES-R/GeoXO team. Our team continues to accomplish outstanding things—achievements made even more impressive because of the pandemic. In the last quarter of the year alone, we delivered GOES-T to Florida and began readying it for a March 1 launch, executed a number of ground system and mission operations rehearsals and tests to prepare for the GOES-T launch, got the brand-new CCOR instrument through thermal vacuuming testing, received approval to formally initiate the GeoXO Program and received concurrence on proposed program and project acquisition strategies. We can’t wait to see GOES-T on-orbit and GeoXO fully in Phase A.
On March 1, 2022, the United States will be launching its latest weather satellite, called GOES-T. GOES-T is part of a group of NOAA satellites that keep an eye on Earth’s weather from space. Why do we need these weather satellites? The information they collect is used in many ways! In fact, if you’ve ever checked a weather forecast on a phone, computer or television, you’ve used information collected by one of GOES-T’s satellite sisters.
Challenge: Draw the GOES-T satellite observing the typical weather during this time of year where you live! Is it snowy and cold? Is it sunny and warm? Are there storms or lightning?
Need some inspiration? Check out this video and comic book to learn more about weather satellites like GOES-T!
The art challenge is open through Jan. 31. Selected art submissions will appear online and in social media the first week of February.