by Dr. Kevin Kloesel, on Nov 17, 2016 11:17:50 AM
Since that first slice of bread in 1928, meteorologists have been patiently waiting for the day where we too might utter that famous phrase, “The greatest thing since…”
On Saturday, November 19, that day may finally come.
BbAn Atlas V rocket is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:42pm EST to haul a 6,300-pound weather satellite, GOES-R, to its appointed orbit 22,240 miles above the Earth’s equator.
It’s been 6 years since the U.S. launched a new weather satellite. For meteorologists, that time span seems like forever. Think about how far technology has come since 2010. The first iPad, the first 3-D movie, joysticks for games were replaced by body tracking – all of these occurred in 2010. In November of 2016, many of these original items are already extinct – technological dinosaurs destroyed by the meteoric rise of improved processing, data management, artificial intelligence, robotics, and Pokemon Go!
So what happens when GOES-R, goes up?
Meteorologists will have access to the first-ever operational, global lightning mapper from space. This tool alone will assist with better forecasting of storms presenting threats to life and property across the western hemisphere. For the first time, a weather satellite will be able to multi-task. The satellite will scan the western hemisphere every 15 minutes, the continental U.S. every 5 minutes, and monitor severe weather every minute – all at the same time.
GOES-R will also carry sensors used to monitor geomagnetic storms originating on the sun. These storms threaten communications, power grids, can cause harm to satellites in orbit, and even astronauts in space. The new satellite will also house a transponder that detects emergency beacons, and will be able to relay locations of distress signals to search and rescue personnel. And don’t forget the obligatory upgrades that were not available 6 years ago. If a television commercial for GOES-R could be created, you could write the script! More advanced, more accurate, collected more often, transmitted faster, and just maybe,
…the greatest thing to happen to meteorology since Otto’s invention in 1928!
(Note: The GOES-R launch will be carried live on NASA-TV with launch coverage starting at 5:10pm EST on Saturday, November 19. Click HERE to watch.)