NASA to launch satellite to measure hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning

An Atlas V rocket, from the United Launch Alliance company, will be in charge of taking the so-called GOES-T into space.

Photo: NASA/Getty Images

The US agency NASA is ready to send a high-definition environmental satellite from Florida next Tuesday that will take better space images and measure hurricanes, electrical storms, tornadoes and a wide variety of natural hazards with greater precision and anticipation.

An Atlas V rocket, from the United Launch Alliance company, will be in charge of taking the so-called GOES-T into space on Tuesday, March 1 with a two-hour takeoff window that begins at 4:38 p.m. EST (9:38 p.m. GMT) from the Station. of the Cape Canaveral Space Force in central Florida.

NASA stressed that it has spent years building the instruments and spacecraft, integrating all of the satellite’s components and conducting rigorous testing to ensure it can withstand “harsh launch conditions and reside 22,236 miles (about 35,700 kilometers) above Earth.” ”.

The GOES-T of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the third satellite in the GOES-R series, “the most sophisticated climate observation and environmental monitoring system in the Western Hemisphere.”

The series “provides advanced imaging and atmospheric measurements, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and space weather monitoring,” details NASA.

NOAA explained this Saturday that ground support is essential for this series of satellites.

This federal agency developed a state-of-the-art ground system that receives data from the spacecraft and “generates data products in real time.”


The GOES satellite network helps meteorologists observe and predict local weather events that affect public safety, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods, and other severe weather conditions.

Among the specific benefits of this sophisticated system, the NOOA highlights better proven hurricane track and intensity forecasts and increased lead time for thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Likewise, there will be earlier warning of the dangers of lightning strikes to the ground, better detection of torrential rains and risks of flash floods.

According to NOAA, this technology will allow improvements in smoke and dust control, in air quality warnings and alerts, and in fire detection and intensity estimation.

Other advances will be in the fields of low cloud/fog detection and transportation safety and aviation route planning.

It will also make more accurate warnings for communications and navigation outages and blackouts, and monitoring of energetic particles responsible for radiation risks.


The GOES-T (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T) design decreases the chance of future cooling system failures due to debris buildup.

In this way, it overcomes the problems that occurred with other satellites in the series and that caused “a partial loss of infrared images at certain times.”

The GOES-T also carries an enhanced magnetometer instrument for superior performance in measuring magnetic field variations.

These satellites also house instruments that detect and monitor approaching space weather hazards.

These include the solar ultraviolet imager and the X-ray and extreme ultraviolet irradiation sensors, which provide images of the Sun and detection of solar flares.

Observations from these instruments contribute, among other things, to space weather forecasts and early warning of outages in public power services and communication and navigation systems, as well as radiation damage to orbiting satellites.

NASA detailed that this third satellite in the series will be placed in a geosynchronous transfer orbit, separated from the launch vehicle and then moved to a higher geostationary orbit and renamed GOES-18.

After being overhauled, calibrated and deemed ready to operate, the now GOES-18 will replace the GOES-17 in the GOES-West position, monitoring the West Coast of the United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean.

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