The latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA has recently captured its first multi-wavelength, full-disk images of the Earth from about 22,236 miles in space.
Infrared (IR) imagery helps weather forecasters to collect information on cloud, sea surface and Earth temperatures; identify fires and monitor smoke plume movements caused by the fire and determine the atmosphere’s winds, moisture and temperature profiles.
The IR radiation, a type of electromagnetic radiation, has a wavelength that is longer (and a lower frequency) compared to that of visible light but has shorter (and higher frequency) when compared to that of microwaves.
The GOES Imager, a multi-channel instrument, senses radiant as well as solar energy reflected by the Earth. The initial IR full-disk image of the Earth showed clouds related to the low pressure regions over southern Minnesota and Ohio Valley, as well as the cold front emerging in the Pacific Northwest.
This image also highlighted powerful thunderstorms and related clouds over South Florida, convection currents flowing over Inter Tropical Convergence Zone that is near the equator, snow cover on the ground in the Rocky Mountains and the clouds related to the sub-tropical stream of jet coming from the Pacific Ocean via south Texas.
The Sounder, another instrument incorporated into the GOES-15, took the Earth’s IR images. It can offer data through which ozone distribution, atmosphere moisture and temperature profiles and cloud top and surface temperatures can be deduced through mathematical analysis. The GOES-15 also offers Earth’s visible images, the first one being captured on April 6, 2010.
NASA will continue to test the spacecraft and its associated instruments during the post launch test period that is likely to end by late August 2010. After this the science test will be conducted by the NOAA.
A joint industry partnership between NASA and NOAA develops the GOES range of U.S. satellites. These satellites are launched jointly by NASA and industry partners, while it is operated by NOAA.
The IR data acquired by the GOES-15 has a better signal-to-noise ratio when compared to earlier GOES-8 through-12 series range. GOES-15 also has an enhanced image registration and navigation.
Applications of the GOES imager include climate studies, hazards, meteorological and oceanographic analysis.
The Fort Wayne based ITT Industries built the GOES-15 Imager and the GOES-15 Sounder. The GOES-15 will be positioned in the orbital storage mode after testing it for four months. Then it can be activated when any of the GOES spacecraft of NOAA experiences problems.