A quantum leap for weather satellites - FOX10 News | WALA

A quantum leap for weather satellites

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Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series

There is about to be a massive leap forward in weather satellite technology when the GOES-R satellite launches in November. It will be parked 22,000 miles above the Earth and provide a level of information light years beyond current satellites.

Joseph A. Pica, Director of Observations at the National Weather Service told us, "Very similar from going to from black-and-white TV to high definition."

Better In Every Way

The GOES-R will provide fifty times more information than current satellites, four times the resolution, and perhaps most importantly, at 5 times the speed.  

The GOES-R will scan half the Earth in 15 minutes. The best we have now is 3 hours. It will also do a separate scan of North America every 5 minutes. The best we have now is 15 minutes. The GOES-R will also be capable of a  zoomed scan of severe weather trouble spots every 30 seconds. Right now there is no capability to do that.

All this additional data will be fed down into models, to forecasters, and into the imagery you see on FOX10.

Side-by-side loops from NOAA show how much of an improvement this satellite will make. It will be quicker than radars on the ground.

"Essentially tell tales for showing convective activity initiating even before you would see it on our radar. They are going to be able to see this convection forming much more rapidly," Pica said. 

A Satellite First

The GOES-R will also have another feature no satellite has had before; lightning detection. 

"Our tornado and severe thunderstorm warning lead times will improve based on that because the research shows that lightning is a precursor to some of that development," Pica told us.

This new satellite will represent years of work and technological improvements.

"We can't wait for this to get up in orbit. We even think there's some capabilities that were not even aware of that this is going to provide."

And for us back on Earth we will have a better idea of what Mother Nature is sending our way. . 

Future Dates

This new satellite will be launched on November 4th from Cape Canaveral. After testing it's expected to be operational by June of next year. 

Two more satellites based on this technology are also scheduled be launched in the next three years. With a fourth possible in the mid 2020s.

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