On December 6, 2011 at 1545z, GOES-15 took its first infrared image as the operational geostationary satellite positioned over the Pacific - called GOES-West. This image shows a portion of that first image. The clouds are colorized based on their temperature, an indication of storm intensity. GOES-15 will continue to image the Western U.S. and Pacific every 15-30 minutes, with full hemisphere scans every 3 hours until its retirement - hopefully many years from now. Credit: NOAA
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Artist's concept of GOES-P in orbit. Image Credit: NASA/Honeywell Tech Solutions, C. Meaney
› Larger image For 12 years, GOES-11, one of NOAA's geostationary satellites, tracked weather and severe storms that impacted the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii and the Pacific region. On December 6, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began the process to deactivate the satellite, which is approaching the end of its useful life, and replace it with a new, more advanced spacecraft.
Launched by NASA as the GOES-P satellite, the new geostationary satellite, renamed GOES-15, has taken the place of GOES-11 and now becomes NOAA's GOES West spacecraft in a fixed orbit over the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and the West Coast and 22,300 miles above the equator. GOES-15 provides more data, with better resolution and image stability than GOES-11. GOES-15 joins NOAA's other operational geostationary satellite, GOES-13, which serves as the GOES East spacecraft. The GOES are not only used for weather applications, but also track space weather, oceanographic changes, forest fires and other hazards and provide scientific data collection and information for search and rescue operations.
"We look forward to the replacement of GOES-11, a third generation satellite built in the 1990's, with GOES-15, a fourth generation satellite built in the 2000's at the GOES-West observing station. The newer model uses star trackers to stabilize the satellite, so animations of the West Coast weather will have very little jitter," said Dr. Dennis Chesters, of NASA's GOES Project at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. NASA's GOES Project also creates some of the GOES satellite images and GOES satellite imagery animations. NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States.
Aware that GOES-11 was nearing the end of its fuel supply, NOAA personnel spent the past several months planning for the end of its mission. Deactivation of GOES-11 began today when data observations were shifted to GOES-15. On December 15, NOAA will fire the spacecraft's booster, moving GOES-11 approximately 185 miles (300 km) above its current geostationary orbit, where it will be officially decommissioned.
"With its steady eye on dangerous weather conditions, GOES-11 served America well, providing the critical images and atmospheric measurements NOAA meteorologists needed to produce life-saving forecasts," said Mary Kicza, assistant adminstrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service.
Launched May 3, 2000, GOES-11 was originally planned for a five-year mission, but lasted nearly seven years longer. "GOES-11's extended service is testimony to the great work of Space Systems/Loral, NASA and the team of NOAA staff and contractors who acquired and managed the spacecraft," Kicza added.
In addition to GOES-15 and GOES-13, NOAA has two other geostationary satellites in orbit - GOES-12, which provides data for South America, and GOES-14, which is in a storage orbit as a ready backup or replacement.
NOAA is planning the next generation of geostationary satellites, called GOES-R, with the first set to launch in 2015. GOES-R is expected to more than double the clarity of today's GOES imagery and provide more atmospheric observations than current capabilities with more frequent images. In addition, data from GOES-R instruments will be used to create many different products NOAA meteorologists and others will use to monitor the atmosphere, land, ocean and the sun.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-P launched March 4, 2010 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. Liftoff occurred at 6:57 p.m. EST. The weather-watching spacecraft joined a constellation of advanced environmental satellites built for NOAA and managed by NASA Goddard.
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