In order to stay ahead of a more unpredictable climate, scientists have launched a new generation of geostationary orbit satellites meant to monitor weather phenomenon. The weather satellite is still in its testing phase even though it is already in space. Scientists still have a lot of tests to perform in order to declare it fully operational.
Despite the fact that the weather satellite is still in tests, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released some of the first images captured by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 spacecraft, also known as GOES-R.
The satellite was initially launched on November 19 on top of an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral. The new images were released on January 23, as they were captured by the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), a key instrument on board the satellite.
According to NOAA’s Stephen Volz, the director of Satellite and Information Services, the images are the result of the most advanced technology ever launched in space meant to predict various severe weather phenomenon before they occur.
The ABI instrument is only one of the six other instruments with which the GOES-16 is equipped such as a lightning detector and a total of four solar space weather instruments meant for monitoring weather on Earth. Up to now, scientists have powered up all the instruments and already started to collect test data.
The weather satellite is currently in its testing period post-launch. This will continue up through May and will involve a thorough examination and testing of all of its instruments, as well as the spacecraft itself, and even its collected data will be analyzed and tested.
After scientists have performed the extensive testing and analysis period, NOAA will decide in May whether or to place the weather satellite either at the western or eastern points in GEO. The satellite is expected to become fully operational in either of its possible location by November.
The GOES-R spacecraft is only the first out of four other advanced weather satellites. The entire program has an estimated lifecycle of several decades, at least by 2030, and comes with a lifetime cost of around $10 billion. The next satellite to be launched is the GOES-S, scheduled for 2018.
Image credit: NOAA