NOAA reveals first images from new weather satellite – Spaceflight Now

GOES-18 full disk GeoColor image from May 5, 2022. This type of image combines data from several ABI channels to approximate what the human eye will see from space. credit: NOAA

NOAA released the first image from the new GOES-18 weather satellite launched on March 1 from Cape Canaveral, and confirmed that the spacecraft’s main camera does not suffer from the same cooling system problem that caused visibility to deteriorate on an earlier satellite.

The first images of GOES-18 were taken on May 5 from a location in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 km) above the equator. GOES 18’s primary camera, called the Advanced Baseline Imager, recorded the views in 16 channels, each tuned to see clouds, dust, smoke and water vapor at different wavelengths of light.

Images released Thursday showed strong thunderstorms over northeastern Texas, dry conditions across much of Mexico and the American southwest, and fog near the coasts of California and Chile.

The new satellite is not yet operational, but is scheduled to take over real-time weather coverage for the western US, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean in early 2023. It will replace GOES-17 in what’s called a “GOES-West stand.”

GOES-17’s camera instrument suffers from performance degradation, most likely due to debris in the device’s cooling system. A malfunction means that the instrument’s detectors are unable to stay at the proper temperatures at certain times, resulting in intermittent loss of some infrared images.

Ground teams were able to restore some of the tool’s lost functionality. NOAA officials said earlier this year that the GOES-17 imager collects about 97% of its planned data, with most image problems limited to times when the satellite is exposed to specific thermal conditions.

NOAA says the GOES-18 camera, designed by L3Harris, performs as designed.

“The ABI cooling system is working fine, with no indications of a problem affecting sister satellite GOES-17,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday. “The GOES-18 ABI has been redesigned to reduce the potential for future cooling system anomalies. The new design uses a simpler hardware configuration that eliminates filters exposed to debris.”

GOES-18, formerly known as GOES-T, blasted off from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The Atlas 5 spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, deployed into a transfer orbit on the target, then the satellite used its own thrust to reach orbit Geostationary circular on March 14th.

At this altitude, the satellites orbit the Earth at the same rate as the planet, which means that weather satellites can provide continuous views of the same hemisphere. NOAA renamed GOES-T to GOES-18 once it reached geostationary orbit.

Ground controllers maneuvered the satellite to a test site along the equator at 89.5 degrees west longitude, where GOES-18 took its first public release images. The next step for GOES-18 will be to drift to 136.8° West longitude for additional instrument testing and calibration along with GOES-17. In early 2023, NOAA plans to transition to GOES-18 as the operational satellite at the GOES-West site, and GOES-17 will become a backup in the US government’s weather satellite fleet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also released the first observations with the GOES-18 magnetometer instrument and Space Environment Sensors array, allowing the satellite to monitor solar activity and space weather, helping to provide early warnings of events that could disrupt communications and power networks. navigation systems and spacecraft operations. .

This GOES-18 image shows the contiguous United States observed by each of the 16 ABI channels on May 5, 2022. This 16-panel image shows the two visible ABI channels, four near-infrared and 10 infrared channels. red. The visible and near-infrared bands are grey, while the infrared bands have warmer brightness temperatures mapped to the warmer colors. The different appearance of each band is due to the way each band reflects or absorbs radiation. Each spectral band was examined at approximately the same time, starting at 1800 UTC. credit: NOAA

From the GOES-West orbital site, GOES-18 will be well positioned to track storm systems approaching the US West Coast, Pacific cyclones, wildfires, and volcanic plumes in the Pacific region.

GOES-18 also carries a lightning diagram to detect and locate lightning strikes within the satellite’s field of view. The spacecraft hosts a transceiver to receive and relay distress messages, and is part of the global space-based search and rescue repeater network.

GOES-18 is the third satellite in NOAA’s latest generation of geostationary weather satellites. The first, GOES-16, launched in 2016 and is operational and covers the eastern coast of the United States and the Atlantic Ocean region, an area primed for the development of hurricanes.

The fourth and final satellite of the current generation, called GOES-U, is under construction for launch in 2024.

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