Two months after being launched from Cape Canaveral, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) newest weather satellite has sent back stunning pictures of planet Earth, and has given scientists — and the public alike — a preview of its’ high-resolution camera work.
GOES-16 is the newest addition to NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system, and is already showing why it is expected to be one of the biggest advances in scientific technology. The weather satellite is the pride and joy of NOAA, and is currently undergoing a battery of tests and trials to determine just how well it can operate 22,000 miles in orbit above Earth.
The high-resolution weather images that GOES-16 will be able to take and send back to Earth aren’t just breathtaking but they could also save lives, as it will allow meteorologists to make more accurate weather forecasts. Per NOAA’s Dr Stephen Volz:
“These images come from the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth. The fantastically rich images provide us with our first glimpse of the impact GOES-16 will have on developing life-saving forecasts.”
The “fantastically rich images” produced by GOES-16 are thanks to the satellite’s state of the art on-board technology, which, as CNN Meteorologist Judson Jones explains it, is a game-changer for the meteorological community.
“It is more than just the high-resolution imagery; this new satellite is adding new wavelengths of data that have never been gathered from space. GOES-16 has three times more spectral channels than earlier generations of GOES satellites. It records the Earth just like how an astronaut sees the planet from space, with two visible channels. But it also has four near-infrared and 10 infrared channels, almost like multiple versions of very expensive night vision goggles.”
Amongst other things, Jones points out that the satellite’s image definition is so high, that it could help meteorologists make the determination between clouds, water vapor, smoke, ice and volcanic ash. As aforementioned, GOES-16 is still undergoing testing, and should become fully operational during the month of November 2017, a date that will be circled on most meteorologists’ calendar and make more than one person around the world giddy with excitement.
Until then, you can view some of GOES-16’s test pictures in NOAA’s gallery here.