GOES-17 Sends First Official Images of Our Planet

Sunday, June 3, 2018 - 12:13

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest weather satellite, called GOES-17, has sent its first official images of our planet.

GOES-17 went up to work with GOES-16, another NOAA weather satellite that was launched in 2016. The two probes, which are part of the so-called GOES-R series, are able to scan most of the Western Hemisphere from the coast of Africa all the way to New Zealand, The Verge reports.

Their observations from 22,300 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) above Earth are key to monitor hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, lighting, and fog. The two spacecraft also provide us with stunning views of our planet.

The satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on GOES-17 scans Earth in 16 spectral bands that include visible, infrared, and near-infrared. This gives climate researchers and meteorologists more data with which to build models and predictions. While these first images are stunning, the Advanced Baseline Imager is not performing as expected. The ABI cooling system isn’t working, which degrades the effectiveness of the satellite’s infrared channels.

NOAA says the cooling issue affects 13 of the 16 spectral bands across infrared and near-infrared. NOAA needs these bands to detect cloud movement during the night when the sun isn’t reflecting off them. The agency is working to repair the cooling system, but it hopes to come up with alternate use cases in the event it cannot get the ABI fully up and running.

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