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NOAA'S new weather satellite expected to lead to more accurate forecasts.
OUT OF THIS WORLD | Earth, Space and Everything In-Between - a daily journey through weather, space and science with meteorologist/science writer Scott Sutherland

Spectacular NEW photos of Earth finally arrive, see them all


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, January 23, 2017, 10:41 AM - They're finally here! The very first images from the new GOES-16 weather satellite have been released, and not only are they beautiful to behold, but they reveal just how much of a leap forward this is going to mean for our daily weather forecasts.

It's been a little over two months now since NASA and NOAA launched the new GOES-R weather satellite into space, and now that it has settled into geostationary orbit and formally renamed GOES-16, we now get to see its "first light" images.

"This is such an exciting day for NOAA! One of our GOES-16 scientists compared this to seeing a newborn baby’s first pictures - it's that exciting for us," Dr. Stephen Volz, the director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, said in a statement on Monday. "These images come from the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth. The fantastically rich images provide us with our first glimpse of the impact GOES-16 will have on developing life-saving forecasts."

It's easy to understand their excitement, as - quite simply - these images are breathtaking.


GOES-16's Full Disk image from the Advanced Baseline Imager, at 1:07 p.m. EST, Jan 15, 2017. Click or tap the image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA/NASA

Compare this to the Full Disk image from the GOES-13 satellite, which was launched in 2006, and has been serving as the “GOES-East” satellite, returning imagery of the eastern half of North America, the Atlantic Ocean and all of South America, ever since.


GOES East Full Disk image from 12:45 p.m. EST, Jan 15, 2017. Credit: NOAA/NASA

According to NOAA, the full-disk image from GOES-16’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) has four times the resolution of the GOES-13 image, and it was scanned 5 times faster.

Here is an example of what GOES-16’s predecessors currently give us, in 4-kilometre and 1-km resolution. Click or tap each image to enlarge.


4 km resolution GOES-13 image of the eastern United States, Ontario and Quebec, Jan 15, 2017. Credit: NOAA


1 km resolution GOES-13 image focusing in on the state of Colorado, Jan 15, 2017. Credit: NOAA

Here are corresponding examples from GOES-16’s “first light” images.


GOES-16 close-up view of the US northeast, Jan 15, 2017. Credit: NOAA/NASA


GOES-16 image of the US southwest and parts of Mexico, Jan 15, 2017. Credit: NOAA/NASA

As well, here is the new satellite’s full, continent-spanning view of North America.


Credit: NOAA/NASA

So, when GOES-16 finally becomes fully operational, later this year, we will not only get clearer, more detailed images of our weather, we’ll have access to that data far faster and far more frequently. This augmented capability will be invaluable for forecasters, especially when tracking potentially dangerous storms.

With these first light images now made public, it will be November before GOES-16 becomes fully operational, and it's still not clear, yet, which position it will take up at the time. It may become the new GOES-East or the new GOES-West satellite. The final decision will be made public in May.

Whichever part of the western hemisphere GOES-16 ends up covering, the other half won't have to wait long before it gets upgraded as well. According to NOAA, GOES-S is now being built and tested, and is expected to take up position to cover the rest sometime in the latter half of 2018.

Check out the rest of GOES-16's first-light images on NOAA's website, but here's one last amazing preview for now, showing the California coast, the limb of the Earth, and the Moon from geostationary orbit! 


Credit: NOAA/NASA

Source: NOAA/NASA

Watch Below: Next-gen satellite camera to deliver amazing details of our weather from space!

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