Press Release

NASA, NOAA prepare to launch weather satellite deisgned to see solar storms

By SpaceRef Editor
July 20, 2001
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Another workhorse of weather forecasting is ready for
launch, but the next advanced environmental satellite sent
into orbit will be the first capable of detecting storms
outside our Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellite, GOES-M, will monitor hurricanes, severe
thunderstorms, flash floods and other severe weather.
However, this satellite also comes equipped with the first
operational Solar X-ray Imager to detect solar storms.

GOES-M, or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite,
is scheduled to lift-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, FL, 3:01 a.m. EDT, July 22, on top of a Lockheed
Martin Atlas II rocket.

Real-time weather data gathered by GOES satellites, combined
with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing
systems, helps weather forecasters provide better warnings of
severe weather. GOES-M provides the ability to monitor and
forecast turbulent solar events, which is valuable to
operators and users of military and civilian radio and
satellite communications systems, navigation systems and
power networks, as well as to astronauts, high-altitude
aviators and scientists.

The GOES-M Solar X-ray Imager will take a full-disk image of
the Sun’s atmosphere once every minute. The images will be
used by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to monitor and forecast
solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes and
active regions. These features are the dominant sources of
disturbances in space weather that lead to geomagnetic
storms.

“The SXI will provide the kind of improvements in space
weather forecasting that satellite imagery did for tracking
hurricanes,” said Steven Hill, SXI Program Manager at NOAA’s
Space Environment Center in Boulder, CO.

The United States operates two GOES meteorological satellites
in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the Equator, one
over the East Coast and one over the West Coast. NOAA’s GOES-
10 spacecraft, launched in 1997, is currently overlooking the
West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii; it is
located at 135 degrees west longitude. GOES-8, launched in
April 1994, is overlooking the East Coast out into the
Atlantic Ocean and is positioned at 75 degrees west
longitude.

“NASA is excited about providing another fine tool for the
NOAA to use in weather operations, including space weather
forecasts,” said Martin A. Davis, GOES program manager at
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. “The
launch of the GOES-M is the continuation of a 25-year joint
program between NASA and NOAA.”

GOES-M will be stored on orbit ready for operation when
needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or 10. It joins GOES-11,
also in storage. “GOES-M will ensure continuity of GOES data,
especially for the Atlantic hurricane season,” added Gerald
Dittberner, GOES program manager, Suitland, MD. The satellite
will be renamed GOES-12 once reaching geostationary orbit.

NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and
Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites.
After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA assumes
responsibility for command and control, data receipt, and
product generation and distribution.

Images taken by the GOES-M Solar X-ray Imager will be
available in real time to the general public via the World
Wide Web, through NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center in
Boulder, CO, at:
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/stp.html

Additional GOES information, imagery and space weather
information are available on the Internet at:

http://www.goes.noaa.gov

http://goes2.gsfc.nasa.gov

http://rsd.gsfc.nasa.gov/goes/

http://sec.noaa.gov

-end-

SpaceRef staff editor.