Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)

NASA-developed, NOAA-operated series of satellites that:

  • provide continuous day and night weather observations;
  • monitor severe weather events such as hurricanes, thunderstorms, and flash floods;
  • relay environmental data from surface collection platforms to a processing center;
  • perform facsimile transmissions of processed weather data to low-cost receiving stations;
  • monitor the Earth's magnetic field, the energetic particle flux in the satellite's vicinity, and x-ray emissions from the sun;
  • detect distress signals from downed aircraft and ships.

GOES observes the U.S. and adjacent ocean areas from vantage points 35,790 (22,240 miles) above the equator at 75 degrees west and 135 degrees west. GOES satellites have an equatorial, Earth-synchronous orbit with a 24-hour period, a visible resolution of 1 km, an IR resolution of 4 km, and a scan rate of 1864 statute miles in about three minutes. GOES carries the following five major sensor systems:

  • The imager is a multispectral instrument capable of sweeping simultaneously one visible and four infrared channels in a north-to-south swath across an east-to-west path, providing full disk imagery once every thirty minutes.
  • The sounder has more spectral bands than the imager for producing high quality atmospheric profiles of temperature and moisture. It is capable of stepping one visible and eighteen infrared channels in a north-to-south swath across an east-to-west path.
  • The Space Environment Monitor (SEM) measures the condition of the Earth's magnetic field, the solar activity and radiation around the spacecraft, and transmits these data to a central processing facility.
  • The Data Collection System (DCS) receives transmitted meteorological data from remotely located platforms and relays the data to the end-users.
  • The Search and Rescue Transponder can relay distress signals at all times, but cannot locate them. While only the polar-orbiting satellite can locate distress signals, the two types of satellites work together to create a comprehensive search and rescue system.
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