The best weather satellite the US has ever developed is being launched this weekend and is set to “revolutionize” the way we understand and forecast the weather.
NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is being blasted up to an orbit of around 35,800 kilometers (22,245 miles) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Saturday, November 19. When in orbit, the next-generation satellite will simultaneously scan the Western Hemisphere every 15 minutes, the US every 5 minutes, and areas of severe weather every 30 to 60 seconds. All of this will be captured in a broader range of wavelengths and higher resolutions than currently available to US satellites.
"Without a doubt, GOES-R will revolutionize weather forecasting as we know it," Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service, told reporters earlier this month. "For weather forecasters, GOES-R is like going from black and white television to super-high-definition TV, and for the American public GOES-R will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasting, and warning."
This will help forecast day-to-day weather more accurately, but will also mean scientists can track storms, wildfires, volcanic ash, hurricanes, pollution levels, and atmospheric conditions with unbeatable precision. It will additionally be able to collect more rigorous data on space weather, solar flares, and geomagnetic storm forecasting.
This unblinking eye in the sky is said to cost $11 billion, according to Nature. That rather hefty price tag includes this GOES-R satellite, as well as three other similar satellites that will be launched in 2036.
Engineers prepare GOES-R for encapsulation in the payload. NASA/Kim Shiflett