NOAA and NASA officials announced a new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), launched tonight, successfully reached its initial orbit, joining four other GOES spacecraft that help NOAA forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar activity.
The new satellite, GOES-P, lifted off at 6:57 pm EST from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and separated from the launch vehicle at 11:18 pm EST. The first signal from the satellite was captured at the same time.
“Our geostationary satellites are the nation’s weather sentinels in the sky,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With more than 35 million Americans living in hurricane prone areas and more than 1,000 tornadoes touching down in the U.S. annually, we need the reliable, accurate data that these satellites provide.”
GOES-P is the final spacecraft in the latest series of NOAA geostationary satellites, capturing higher resolution images of weather patterns and atmospheric measurements than those provided by earlier satellites. The higher resolution allows forecasters to pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy.
GOES-P also provides better data for space and solar weather thanks to its Solar X-Ray Imager. The SXI imager is to space weather forecasting what satellite images are to hurricane forecasting. This data will improve forecasts and warnings for solar disturbances, protecting billions of dollars of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground. This vital information will also reduce the effect of power surges for the satellite-based electronics and communications industry.
NOAA has two operational GOES satellites hovering 22,300 miles above the equator – GOES-12, in the east, and GOES-11, in the west – each provide continuous observations of environmental conditions of North, Central and South America and surrounding oceans. GOES-13, currently in a storage orbit, is being moved to replace GOES-12, which will be positioned to provide coverage for South America as part of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems, or GEOSS.
Since the first GOES launch in 1974, these satellites have supplied the data critical for fast, accurate weather forecasts and warnings, detecting solar storm activity and relaying distress signals from emergency beacons.
On March 13, GOES-P will be placed in its final orbit and renamed GOES-15. Once it reaches geostationary orbit, GOES-P will undergo a series of tests for approximately six months before completing its “check-out” phase. After check out, GOES-P will be placed into orbital storage and remain ready for activation if one of the operational GOES fail.
NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the satellites for NOAA on a cost reimbursable basis.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noaa.lubchenco.
On the Web: GOES: http://www.osd.noaa.gov/GOES/GOES-P_Factsheet_1-19-10.pdf