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GOES-R Next-Gen Weather Satellite Prepares for Liftoff

Nov 18, 2016 05:04 AM EST
Tropical Storm Arthur Threatens North Carolina's Outer Banks
GOES-R, the next-gen weather satellite, was finally given a go signal to launch on Saturday, Nov. 19, as weather forecasts predict favorable weather on launch day.
(Photo : NOAA via Getty Images)

The GOES-R (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite - R series) weather satellite will finally launch on Saturday, Nov. 19 from the Florida Space Coast.

The decision was made after a launch readiness review at the space center. Weather forecasters have predicted a 90 percent chance of favorable weather for the one-hour launch window on Saturday at Space Launch Complex 41, NASA said in a statement.

The next-generation weather satellite will be a "game changer" in terms of weather forecasting. GOES-R, a collaborative program between NASA and NOAA, is a series of satellites that will provide continuous imagery of weather patterns and severe storms as regularly as every five minutes or as frequently as every 30 seconds.

"We are bringing the nation a new capability .. that's a dramatic leap .. to scan the entire hemisphere in about 5 minutes," Greg Mandt, NOAA GOES-R program manager, told Universe Today.

The images will be used in improving weather forecasts, severe weather outlooks, watches and warnings, lightning conditions, as well as maritime and aviation forecasts. Data from the satellite could also help in long-term forecasting, such as seasonal predictions and drought outlooks.

Moreover, GOES-R is also capable of constantly monitoring space weather conditions, such as effects of solar flares, which could provide advance notice of potential communication and navigation disruptions. It will also help researchers in understanding the interactions between land, oceans, the atmosphere and climate, NASA said.

GOES-R, which is designed to last for 15 years in orbit, is the first in a new series of America's most powerful and most advanced weather observations satellites. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16. The massive school bus-sized satellite, which was built by Lockheed Martin, is equipped with six instruments or sensors: the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS), and the Magnetometer (MAG).

GOES-R will launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 5:42 pm from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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