NASA, NOAA Prepare to Launch Weather Satellite Designed to See Solar Storms
20 Jul 2001
(Source: NASA Headquarters)
David E. Steitz
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Cynthia M. O'Carroll
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
NOAA/National Environmental Satellite Data and Information
Service, Suitland, MD
NOAA/Office of Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
Another workhorse of weather forecasting is ready for launch, but the next advanced environmental satellite sent into orbit will be the first capable of detecting storms outside our Earth's atmosphere.
The satellite, GOES-M, will monitor hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and other severe weather. However, this satellite also comes equipped with the first operational Solar X-ray Imager to detect solar storms.
GOES-M, or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, is scheduled to lift-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, 3:01 a.m. EDT, July 22, on top of a Lockheed Martin Atlas II rocket.
Real-time weather data gathered by GOES satellites, combined with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems, helps weather forecasters provide better warnings of severe weather. GOES-M provides the ability to monitor and forecast turbulent solar events, which is valuable to operators and users of military and civilian radio and satellite communications systems, navigation systems and power networks, as well as to astronauts, high-altitude aviators and scientists.
The GOES-M Solar X-ray Imager will take a full-disk image of the Sun's atmosphere once every minute. The images will be used by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to monitor and forecast solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes and active regions. These features are the dominant sources of disturbances in space weather that lead to geomagnetic storms.
"The SXI will provide the kind of improvements in space weather forecasting that satellite imagery did for tracking hurricanes," said Steven Hill, SXI Program Manager at NOAA's Space Environment Center in Boulder, CO.
The United States operates two GOES meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the Equator, one over the East Coast and one over the West Coast. NOAA's GOES- 10 spacecraft, launched in 1997, is currently overlooking the West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii; it is located at 135 degrees west longitude. GOES-8, launched in April 1994, is overlooking the East Coast out into the Atlantic Ocean and is positioned at 75 degrees west longitude.
"NASA is excited about providing another fine tool for the NOAA to use in weather operations, including space weather forecasts," said Martin A. Davis, GOES program manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. "The launch of the GOES-M is the continuation of a 25-year joint program between NASA and NOAA."
GOES-M will be stored on orbit ready for operation when needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or 10. It joins GOES-11, also in storage. "GOES-M will ensure continuity of GOES data, especially for the Atlantic hurricane season," added Gerald Dittberner, GOES program manager, Suitland, MD. The satellite will be renamed GOES-12 once reaching geostationary orbit.
NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites. After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA assumes responsibility for command and control, data receipt, and product generation and distribution.
Images taken by the GOES-M Solar X-ray Imager will be available in real time to the general public via the World Wide Web, through NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, CO, at:
Additional GOES information, imagery and space weather information are available on the Internet at: