Scientists will soon have a powerful new set of eyes in the sky to study Earth’s weather and climate.
The GOES-T satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida today (March 1) at 4:38 p.m. EDT (2138 GMT), aboard the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V missile at the final frontier. GOES-T deployed as planned from the upper stage of Atlas V about 3.5 hours after liftoff, ULA representatives Confirmed this evening via Twitter.
GOES-T It is the newest $11.7 billion US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spacecraft of four Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R satellites. The satellite is heading into a geostationary orbit, about 22,300 miles (35,900 km) above our planet.
GOES-T will perform a variety of work from this position, helping scientists monitor weather systems and natural hazards across a wide stretch of the Western Hemisphere.
Related: Top 10 views of Earth from space
GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18 after reaching geostationary orbit. It will then start a long running period.
“Initially, it will be placed at 89.5 . longitude [degrees] West, which is for the central United States, where post-launch testing will begin. This test will continue for two months,” Dan Lindsay, NOAA’s GOES-R program scientist, said during a televised news conference Friday (February 25).
“And then, in May, it will drift to the western location, about 137 [degrees] And Lindsey continued in the west, which is over the eastern Pacific, then in early 2023, the current plan is for GOES-18 to replace GOES-17.
GOES-17, which was launched in 2018, is in operation but is seeing a Cooling problem On the Advanced Basic Imaging (ABI) device. When GOES-18 comes fully online, GOES-17 will be put into orbital storage, and the new spacecraft will take its place as the GOES West satellite. (Yes, the naming system is baffling.) NOAA officials said it will work alongside GOES East to study half of the planet, from New Zealand to the west coast of Africa.
GOES-T’s ground applications will include searching for traces of storms across the Pacific Ocean and wildfires across the western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
“It’s also capable of checking smoke,” Lindsay said. “This is really important, because as we all know, we’ve had very active wildfire seasons in the past few years, especially in the western United States.”
“Forecasters and emergency managers are able to use this data,” Lindsay continued, to detect hot spots and then warn firefighters and the public about where the fire is and also where the smoke is heading. It’s really important to track the smoke and track that in terms of air quality and other potential risks.”
Lindsey also mentioned aircraft as one of the potential hazard vectors that GOES-T will seek to manage, by searching for dangerous aerosols on flight paths.
GOES-T Sports also advanced Lightning mapper – an updated version of those on previous GOES-R satellites – that has been optimized to see atomic oxygen. Atomic oxygen is excited by the temperatures and pressures that occur during lightning strikes, Tewa Kpulun, head of Lightning Mapper (GLM) science at airline Lockheed Martin, said at the same press conference.
Kpulun said the GLM has three optical filters that can remove solar glare, allowing the instrument to see “lightning during the day without capturing any excess light, a much more difficult job than seeing it glow in the dark.”
Kpulun added that the GLM data “means that we get better details of lightning strikes before a storm fully develops, which forecasters use to predict how and where dangerous weather will intensify.”
The satellite will also assist other missions in monitoring space climate Such as solar storms to protect satellites, power grids and other infrastructure. It will image the entire disk of Earth every 10 minutes using the Advanced Basic Imaging (ABI) tool.
The ABI has 16 spectral bands ranging from visible to infrared wavelengths, said Daniel Gall, senior ABI systems engineer at L3Harris Technologies. “this is [instrument] It provides three times the spectral information, four times the spatial resolution and five times faster coverage than the previous generation of these photographers,” Gal said during the press conference.
GOES-T has several technical improvements over previous GOES-R satellites, said Candice Carlisle, GOES-R Flight Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
For example, GOES-T’s ABI instrument contains a redesigned radiator to improve thermal control. Reliability will increase on both the propulsion system and the lightning scheme due to new electronics and other changes. Carlisle added that the satellite’s magnetometer will also be more accurate than previous magnetometers thanks to improved stability.
The first images from GOES-T, assuming commissioning went well, should return to Earth in May or June. Mission officials declined to answer publicly a question about whether they would share information with Russia, a country currently under US sanctions because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We will continue [the conversation] About the flag of GOES-T,” Lindsay said in response to the question, but added that officials would conduct an offline follow-up with the reporter asking about the matter.
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