Tech and Space 2016 w/47

I like science and math. Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. To practice science one needs observations and experiments.

On the observation side, Nov 19th the NOAA GOES-R weather satellite was launched.

Launches and later positioning are not as simple as one might imagine. Getting into a geo-stationary orbit at the correct place is no simple thing. It is expected to take 16 days to maneuver and test the satellite before it is in the right place. Then a year of testing follows. Depending on the results and the health of other GOES satellites this new satellite will park over either the east or west coast of America. 

The biggest difference in the tech on this GOES satellite is the increased resolution, more types of light detection, faster imaging, and more. To put numbers to it; GOES-R will provide real time data and image sets at 75Mbps up from the previous 2.6Mbps, allows a full data set every 5 to 15 minutes rather than the previous 30, provide images every 30 seconds, provide 16 spectral bands where previous GOES units provided 5, and 4x the resolution. GOES-R is about the size of a small RV: 6.1 m x 5.6 m x 3.9 m (20.0 ft x 18.4 ft x 12.8 ft)

This will be the first GOES to map lightening. Cloud to cloud and cloud to ground are both recorded. Lightening is a precursor to sever weather, by several minutes. Thus, the satellites are expected to provide knowledge we hope will lead additional warning time.

GOES-R will also monitor space weather, think solar flares and magnetic storms that can interrupt our communications systems.

Of course, they measure temperature. Quoting Dr. Roy Spencer, “Since 1979, NOAA satellites have been carrying instruments which measure the natural microwave thermal emissions from oxygen in the atmosphere. The intensity of the signals these microwave radiometers measure at different microwave frequencies is directly proportional to the temperature of different, deep layers of the atmosphere.

[They] …use their own on-board precision redundant platinum resistance thermometers (PRTs) calibrated to a laboratory reference standard before launch.”

The result is the most accurate measure of Earth temperatures available. The temperature data we have is available:


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. – J Robert Oppenheimer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.