Satellite technology is one of the big reasons why weather forecasting has seen big strides and it looks like this science will be taking another big leap forward. On November 19, NASA launched the nation’s most advanced weather satellite, the GOES-R. Once in its permanent orbit of 22,300 miles above the Earth, the $1 billion instrument is expected to send the sharpest and fastest pictures of hurricanes, tornadoes and other U.S. weather events in super high-definition. We should start seeing the implementation of the new satellite sometime in 2017.
This is the first of a fleet of weather-tracking satellites to help scientists and forecasters predict the weather further in advance and help saves lives when severe weather strikes. The GOES-R will be capable of scanning the Earth five times faster than the older systems that were developed in the 1990s.
Much of this data will also be streamed to Earth in real time, compared to delays with the current system. This will be incredible as lightning strikes will be seen almost instantly, mainly the common cloud-to-cloud variety, using a new instrument called the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). This system will be excellent for tracking severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
In addition to providing faster and more detailed weather information, the GOES-R satellite will also be able to detect solar flares and the solar wind from the sun. This system will also have the capability to participate in the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking and help those with emergency transponders who need help.
In November of 2016, NASA also launched its Global Navigation Satellite System of eight small satellites to better study hurricanes and predict their intensity. These series of satellites will use GPS satellites to measure wind speed in the tropics where these hurricanes form. They can also measure the surface roughness of oceans to help calculate wind speed and storm intensity.