"We at NASA Science are proud to support our joint agency partner NOAA on today's launch of GOES-S, a national asset that will impact lives across the Western Hemisphere each and every day", said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, who attended today's launch.
A satellite scheduled for launch from Florida this week could give firefighters a new tool to fight the wildfires on the West Coast.
The current GOES-East satellite launched in 2016, and it has provided views of developing weather in unprecedented detail.
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Built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the new GOES satellites feature an advanced high-resolution camera, a sensitive magnetometer, an ultraviolet X-ray sensor to measure solar radiation, an ultraviolet imager to constantly monitor the sun and sensors to measure charged particles from the sun that can affect communications and navigation.
At the news conference and at another one held earlier on February 27, NOAA and NASA researchers shared stories of how GOES-East's remarkably clear views have aided in search-and-rescue operations as well as in forecasting.
Rolling out on the eve of liftoff with the GOES-S weather satellite, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket journeyed 1,800 feet from its vertical assembly hangar to Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 launch pad Wednesday. GOES-S will be designated GOES-17 upon reaching geostationary orbit.
The new satellite will be called GOES-West when it becomes operational later this year. This ability has already been demonstrated by the first GOES satellite with wildfires in the Plains past year.
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"Those of us in the severe weather community are really excited about the data we're seeing from GOES-16 [GOES-East]", Kristin Calhoun, a research scientist with NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory, said during the conference.
As Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas coast, the satellite revealed the clouds sinking in the eye and the eye expanding as the storm morphed from a category 2 to 4, Uccellini said.
The satellite will also be able to track atmospheric rivers, which can bring flooding rains and heavy snowfall to western states, Weather.com reported. Development of the advanced satellite program started back in 2005 and will continue through 2036. GOES-S is the second in the series of weather satellites.
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