GOES-T weather satellite launch scheduled for March 1 in Florida


GOES-T will launch on March 1 from Cape Canaveral and will become GOES-18.

MACON, Ga. — In just a few weeks, meteorologists will have a new tool in the sky to monitor the atmosphere over the United States. A new satellite, currently named GOES-T, will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

This revolutionary satellite program started with GOES-R, the original name of GOES-16, which was launched in November 2016.

Each time weather satellites are launched, their names change from letters to numbers. The second in the series, GOES-S, now known as GOES-17, was launched in 2018.

Shortly after GOES-17 launched in 2018, engineers from NOAA and NASA discovered a problem: there was a problem with the onboard cooling systems. That’s right, aboard the satellite, already in orbit, about 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Pam Sullivan, NOAA program director for GOES-R, explains that the problem leads to missing data.

“We’re actually getting 92% of the predicted data right now,” Sullivan said. “So most of the time the satellite works very well, but during the hottest hours of the day it has problems and we can’t keep the detector data good.

The good news is that the engineers were able to fix this issue on the two that haven’t launched yet.

Originally scheduled for May 2020, the cooling system issue delayed the launch of GOES-T so that the repair could be completed.

GOES-T will take over the domain of GOES-17, GOES-West, which is the western United States and the Pacific Ocean. GOES-17 will then become the backup.

Although not directly monitoring Central Georgia, GOES-West still plays an important role in our forecast. Dylan Lusk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, says the information from this domain is used by models to predict our weather.

“Let’s say you have a giant low pressure system happening over Japan,” Lusk said. “This system ends up impacting the jet stream, creating waves and ripples there that basically go through Alaska and the Pacific, and out to the west coast of the United States, and then eventually affect us.”

GOES-T is scheduled to launch March 1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Once in orbit, NOAA and NASA will conduct a series of tests with the goal of bringing the new satellite into service as early as January 2023.


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