December 13, 2016 – Early this month, after a series of maneuvers conducted using the satellite’s hydrazine bipropellent thrusters (HBTs), GOES-16 placed itself in its designated 89.5 degree West longitude checkout location where it will undergo an extended checkout and validation phase of approximately one year.
Over the last week, GOES-16 has deployed its magnetometer boom; powered on its ABI, GLM, SUVI, and EXIS instruments; and its ground stations are now receiving space weather data from the spacecraft. The satellite’s instruments will continue to progress through their planned testing and calibration phases over the next several weeks.
When it’s fully operational, GOES-16 will provide images of weather patterns and severe storms as regularly as every five minutes or as frequently as every 30 seconds. These images can be used to aid in weather forecasts, severe weather outlooks, watches and warnings, lightning conditions, maritime forecasts and aviation forecasts. The satellite will also assist in longer term forecasting, such as seasonal predictions and drought outlooks, and will monitor space weather conditions, including the effects of solar flares, to provide advance notice of potential communication and navigation disruptions.
Earth’s geomagnetic field acts as a shield, protecting us from hazardous incoming solar radiation. Geomagnetic storms, caused by eruptions on the surface of the sun, can interfere with communications and navigation systems, cause damage to satellites, cause health risks to astronauts, and threaten power utilities. When a solar flare occurs, GOES-16 will tell space weather forecasters where it happened on the sun and how strong it was. Using that information, forecasters can determine if the explosion of energy is coming toward Earth or not.
Once a geomagnetic storm reaches Earth, GOES-16 will measure the invisible magnetic field and particle radiation environment that surrounds the planet. These measurements will tell forecasters exactly what is happening, providing minute by minute updates as the geomagnetic storm progresses.
This video shows GOES-16’s magnetometer being deployed during testing here on Earth:
On the ground, the satellite was known as GOES-R, but once it reached geostationary orbit, it was renamed GOES-16.
GOES-R/GOES-16 is a collaboration between NASA and NOAA. The GOES-R series satellites are being built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. In addition to the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin also provides the Magnetometer, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), and the Solar Ultra-Violet Imager (SUVI). The University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) provides the Extreme ultraviolet/X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS). The satellite launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket on November 19, 2016.