GOES-R weather satellite nearing orbit

December 2nd, 2016

By Doug LeDuc | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

A satellite payload designed and built by the Fort Wayne engineers of Harris Corp.’s Space and Intelligence Systems business is on its way to changing the world of weather forecasting.

The company’s new Advanced Baseline Imager is the primary payload for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R Series (GOES-R), which NASA launched Nov. 19 to provide more information for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration more quickly.

The current generation of GOES satellites can provide valuable data on storm system development, but it has not always been able to monitor weather elsewhere while watching a storm.

The ABI will be able to scan for a broader view while, for example, watching two storm systems develop at the same time in different parts of the United States.

From 22,300 miles above the earth, the ABI will provide four time the image resolution, to one-tenth of a square mile. More spectral bands on the imager will collect more information on volcanic ash, clouds, dust, fires, hurricane intensity, rainfall rate, and winds. And the information will be sent five times faster, as quickly as 30 seconds.

“GOES-R will advance environmental monitoring significantly, marking a quantum leap from 1990s technology into the 21st century,” Eric Webster said in a statement. He is vice president and general manager for Harris Environmental Solutions in Fort Wayne.

“The detail, quality and speed of information coming from the new imager and processed through our ground system will be game changers for meteorologists, the airline industry and other markets dependent on accurate and timely weather forecasts,” he said.

There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: -R, -S, -T and -U, which will expand NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.

The GOES-R name will change to GOES-16 once it reaches orbit, a trip expected to take about two weeks. The satellite will become operational within a year, once its six instruments have been validated.

Data from GOES-16 will result in 34 new or improved meteorological, solar and space weather products.

“We’re going to make a huge leap from what we have now to what we’re going to have here in just a few months,” Todd McNamara, a meteorologist with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral, said in a statement.

“The benefits we are seeing with the GOES-R satellite system, the higher resolution, the more frequent updates, the increased number of products, and the lightning information is kind of like going from a black and white television to a high-definition television system.”

In addition to saving more lives with quicker warnings, NOAA has said it expects better forecasts and information from the GOES-R program to prevent $4.6 billion in economic losses.