40 years ago… on October 16, 1975… NOAA launched its first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. GOES-1… as it was named… returned its first image only nine days later… and quickly became an essential tool used by weather forecasters.
It gave meteorologists their first near real time look at atmospheric conditions from a fixed location… in what we call geosynchronous orbit. GOES-1 wasn’t the first weather satellite in orbit… but it was the first to be launched to such high heights. Most satellites are a couple hundred miles above the earth’s surface… taking images of different locations around the globe. GOES-1 and geostationary satellites are in geosynchronous orbit… an orbit that allows these satellites to look at the planet from a fixed position from far away (22,236 miles above mean sea level to be exact).
In the last 40 years… the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other world weather agencies have launched dozens of other geosynchronous satellites that have returned millions of images.
And the next generation of weather observing satellites is on the horizon! The first satellite in this series… called GOES-R… is scheduled to launch late next year… and should significantly continue the trend of improving weather observation and bringing better forecasts to the public. It will scan the earth five times faster at four times the image resolution.
For more information on GOES-R… check out their page at GOES-R homepage.