U.S. launches next-generation weather satellite that will revolutionize forecasting

U.S. launches next-generation weather satellite that will revolutionize forecastingBy Angela Fritz

Nov 19 2016


At 6:42 on Saturday evening, the United States launched a revolutionary new weather satellite into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When GOES-R arrives at orbit, it will see hurricanes and blizzards with higher resolution than any other U.S. satellite of its kind. The scans will take less time and be transmitted faster. Severe storms will be more predictable through breakthrough lightning mapping.

The weather satellites that silently monitor the atmosphere over North America are approaching the end of their life spans. If they fail, the United States will be left without critical weather data. Scientists at NOAA and NASA have been warning of this risk for years. In the late 1990s, they began designing instruments for the next generation of satellites.

GOES-R, the first in the new series to launch, will join a large constellation of U.S. satellites — operated by NOAA, NASA and the Department of Defense — that observe our planet’s weather and environment.

It is a game-changer for weather forecasting, but it’s also part of a bigger picture. GOES-R joins an international network of satellites that share data freely among nearly 200 countries. The United States provides data to other nations so they can generate precise forecasts and alert people to prepare for weather events. In turn, those countries share their data with the U.S. National Weather Service.

Advance notice of crippling blizzards, long-range hurricane forecasts — even a severe thunderstorm outlook — is possible because of the freely-provided weather data from Europe, China and Russia. It is a mutual understanding based on an unspoken tenet: Our well-being is important, and so is yours, and we can’t do this without one another.