NOAA has released the first images from the new meteorological satellite GOES-18 launched from Cape Canaveral on March 1 and confirmed that the spacecraft’s main camera does not have the same problem with the cooling system that caused vision degradation to a previous satellite.
The first GOES-18 images were taken on May 5 from a geostationary location more than 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) above the equator. The GOES 18 main camera, called Advanced Baseline Imager, recorded the projections on 16 channels, each tuned to see clouds, dust, smoke and water vapor at different wavelengths of light.
Images released Thursday showed heavy thunderstorms in northeastern Texas, dry conditions in much of Mexico and southwestern America, and fog off the coasts of California and Chile.
The new satellite is not yet operational, but is scheduled to take on real-time weather coverage in the western United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific in early 2023. It will replace the so-called “GOES-17” GOES-West ”position.
The camera instrument of the GOES-17 suffers from degraded performance, which is probably caused by debris that has accumulated in the cooling system of the instrument. The malfunction means that the instrument detectors are not able to stay at the right temperatures at certain times, leading to intermittent loss of some infrared images.
Ground teams managed to regain some of the lost function of the instrument. NOAA officials said earlier this year that the GOES-17 imaging device collects about 97% of its scheduled data, with most imaging problems limited to periods when the satellite is exposed to specific thermal conditions.
NOAA says the GOES-18 camera, built by L3Harris, works as designed.
“The ABI cooling system is performing well, with no signs of a problem affecting its satellite brother, the GOES-17,” NOAA said on Thursday. “ABI has been redesigned for GOES-18 to reduce the possibility of future cooling system malfunctions. The new design uses a simpler hardware configuration that eliminates filters that are prone to debris. ”
The GOES-18, formerly known as the GOES-T, took off from Cape Canaveral with a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. satellite used its own propulsion to reach a circular geostationary orbit on March 14th.
At this altitude, satellites orbit the Earth at the same rate as the planet, which means that meteorological satellites can provide continuous view of the same hemisphere. NOAA renamed GOES-T to GOES-18 as soon as it reached geostationary orbit.
Ground controllers led the satellite to a test site along the equator at 89.5 degrees west longitude, where GOES-18 took its first photos for public release. The next step for GOES-18 will be a shift to 136.8 degrees west longitude for additional instrument testing and calibration in parallel with GOES-17. In early 2023, NOAA plans to switch to GOES-18 as an operational satellite at GOES-West, and GOES-17 will be backed up by the US Government’s weather satellite fleet.
NOAA also released the first observations from the GOES-18 magnetometer and space sensor suite, allowing the satellite to monitor solar activity and weather in space, helping to provide early alerts for events that could disrupt communications. , power grids, navigation systems and spacecraft functions. .
From the GOES-West orbital position, the GOES-18 will be well positioned to monitor storm systems approaching the US West Coast, Pacific hurricanes, fires, and volcanic craters in the Pacific.
The GOES-18 also carries a lightning mapper to detect and detect lightning within the satellite’s field of view. The spacecraft hosts a transponder for receiving and transmitting distress messages, part of a global search and rescue repeater space network.
GOES-18 is the third satellite of NOAA’s latest generation of geostationary weather satellites. The first, GOES-16, was launched in 2016 and is operational covering the US East Coast and the Atlantic Ocean, a hurricane-prone area.
A fourth and final satellite of the current generation, called GOES-U, is under construction for launch in 2024.
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