NOAA’s GOES-12 Satellite Begins Coverage of South America

May 25, 2010

A newly repositioned NOAA satellite is broadening the coverage of the Western Hemisphere, especially over South America. This coverage will supply forecasters in South America with more imagery and data to track dangerous storms – including tropical cyclones – and the storms that can trigger potentially deadly mudslides.

NOAA began shifting the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) -12 spacecraft last month from its previous GOES-EAST position, at 75 degrees West, to its new orbital location at 60 degrees West. GOES-12 replaced GOES-10, which NOAA first repositioned in 2006 to cover South America.

“We’re ensuring NOAA satellites are always ready to send the imagery and data that scientists around the world have come to rely on,” said Mary Kicza, NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “Shifting GOES-12 speaks to NOAA’s serious commitment to protecting lives and property throughout North, Central and South America with continued reliable satellite coverage.”

NOAA started the practice of shifting an older GOES spacecraft to cover South America because as a major weather event impacts North America, the GOES EAST satellite is switched to rapid-scan mode for added focus on the event. When that happens, the satellite only captures data south of the equator every three hours, leaving forecasters in South America at a disadvantage with less imagery and data.
“Hurricanes, floods, drought, wildfires and other dangerous weather conditions are not confined to the United States, but affect our neighbors to the south, too,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “We’re ensuring meteorologists in South America have timely access to critical data from GOES to help issue accurate, life-saving forecasts.”

Moving GOES-12 is a significant contribution to the emerging Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). This global, public infrastructure allows managers and decision makers to respond more effectively to the many environmental challenges facing society. GEOSS links individual observing systems into a sustained, comprehensive global system.

"Argentina views the replacement of GOES-10 by GOES-12 as a clear success for GEOSS in the Americas and a vital source of data for South America," said Conrado Varotto, Ph.D., director of CONAE, the Argentine space agency. "The replacement provides timely and adequate data which has allowed the South American countries to respond to meteorological and environmental phenomena in a way that would not be possible if GOES-12 had not replaced GOES-10."

NOAA has two operational GOES satellites hovering 22,300 miles above the equator – GOES-11 in the West and GOES-13, which replaced GOES-12 as the GOES-EAST satellite. NOAA has two newer geostationary spacecraft – GOES-14, launched June 27, 2009 and GOES-15, launched March 4, 2010 – in orbital storage, but ready for activation should any of the other satellites experiences trouble.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook.