NOAA’s New “Hurricane Eye in the Sky” and Key Weather Satellite Gets into Position

April 15, 2010

Launch of NOAA's GOES-13.

Launch of NOAA's GOES-13.

High resolution (Credit: NASA)

NOAA’s GOES-13 spacecraft today became the official GOES-EAST satellite, perched 22,300 miles above the equator in a prime location to spot potentially life-threatening weather affecting the eastern half of the nation, including tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

“Just in time for the 2010 hurricane season, NOAA will have one of its newest and most technologically advanced satellites closely tracking these storms – from when they develop to when they dissipate,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

GOES-13 replaced GOES-12, which NOAA is shifting to provide coverage for South America, as part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. GOES-11 will continue to monitor the western half of the United States in the GOES-WEST position.

GOES-13, launched in May 2006, is the first of three new NOAA geostationary environmental satellites in orbit. Of the two other spacecraft in the series, GOES-14, launched in June 2009, remains in orbital storage and ready for activation if one of the operational GOES fails. GOES-15, launched in March 2010, is undergoing tests before completing its “check-out” phase in late summer.

GOES satellite animation.

GOES satellite animation.

Animation (Credit: NOAA)

Since the first GOES launched in 1974, these satellites have supplied the data critical for fast, accurate weather forecasts and warnings. The newer GOES help relay distress signals from emergency beacons and are equipped to monitor solar activity, which can impact billions of dollars worth of government and commercial assets in space and on the ground.

NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the satellites for NOAA on a cost reimbursable basis.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.