KMSP - The new GOES-R weather satellite may be one of the most anticipated satellite launches in US history. While it doesn’t have the flair of a shuttle launch where we rocket humans into space, or the fame status that the Hubble has accrued while taking millions of images of distant galaxies, it may very well be one of the tools that launches US weather forecasting to the next level. BUT, the launch date has been delayed a couple of weeks.
Originally scheduled to launch on November 4, but because the Kennedy Space Center took a nearly direct hit from hurricane Matthew, the scheduled launch will get pushed back to the 16th. While not a huge delay in the grand scheme of things, it could mean even longer delays because schedule launches are heavily dependent on weather conditions, ground conditions, and rocket status… all can change at a moment’s notice delaying the launch even further. For example, several rockets in the last couple of years have been delayed months because of these issues. Hopefully, that won’t happen here.
The current GOES satellites (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) were launched back in the 70’s, giving way to what’s typically described as the “satellite era” of meteorology. The satellite images you see of weather from space… sea surface temperatures… hurricane forecasts… and dozens of other technologies all come out of the GOES satellites. Well, these brand new, multibillion dollar satellites, will be responsible for the single largest data upgrade ever made to the arsenal that is US weather forecasting.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series will significantly improve the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property and our nation’s economic health and prosperity. The GOES-R series will make available 34 atmospheric, land, ocean, solar and space weather products for the forecasting and warning community. The satellites will provide advanced imaging with increased spatial resolution and faster coverage for more accurate forecasts, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity. It will also be able to shell out a thousand times more data roughly 100 times faster than the current satellite systems. You know how you always say, “if you don’t like the weather now, just wait five minutes?” Well, these new satellites will be able to see and communicate that change to us here on the ground faster than the weather changes… and as we know, speed is everything!