GOES-16 Begins Drift To Operational Location

Last image captured by GOES-16 ABI before the instrument went offline to prepare for drift operations. Image Credit: NASA/NOAA

November 30, 2017 – On November 30, 2017, GOES-16 began drifting from its checkout location at 89.3 degrees west longitude to its operational location at 75.2 degrees west. During the drift, the satellite’s main instruments are in safe or diagnostic modes and not transmitting data. The magnetometers are the only instruments that will continue to operate throughout the drift period.

Once GOES-16 reaches 75.2 degrees west on December 11, 2017, there will be three to nine days of calibration activity. All instruments will be transmitting data by December 20, 2017, and GOES-16 will officially become GOES-East. GOES-16 will replace GOES-13 as NOAA’s operational GOES-East satellite, keeping watch over most of North America, as well as Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean to the coast of Africa.

There will be a period of overlap with GOES-13 after GOES-16 becomes GOES-East. GOES-13 will remain on and provide data until January 2, 2018, at which time it will begin drifting to its storage location at 60 degrees west. During this period of overlap, GOES-13 GVAR will be relayed through GOES-14. After that time, GOES-13 will be placed in storage.

GOES-16 is the most advanced weather satellite NOAA has ever developed. Although not yet operational, data from GOES-16 satellite has already proved vital in forecasting operations during Hurricane Maria. GOES-16 is able to scan a targeted area of severe weather as often as every 30 seconds, a capability not available with current GOES. This rapid scanning rate allows forecasters to analyze cloud patterns and track storms in real time. GOES-16 also has three times more channels than the current GOES imager, providing better estimates of the structure of tropical cyclones and their environments.

With the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) provided by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and a second instrument — the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) — built by Lockheed Martin, GOES-16 will also monitor space weather. The satellite will be used to observe coronal mass ejections, solar flares and ion fluxes that can disrupt power grids, communication and navigation systems and create radiation hazards.

GOES-16 is the first in a series of four next-generation geostationary satellites being built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. The next, GOES-S, is scheduled to launch by spring 2018 and will be expected to move to the GOES-West location once it is commissioned. GOES-S will be followed by the launches of GOES-T and GOES-U, in 2020 and 2024 respectively.

GOES-R/GOES-16 launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket on November 19, 2016.

The GOES-R program is a collaboration between NASA and NOAA.