During April, 2010, the new GOES-13 weather satellite has moved from orbital storage to active duty as ‘GOES-EAST’ covering the eastern USA and Atlantic Ocean. It replaces the GOES-12 satellite which is being moved to cover South America. The GOES-11 satellite (GOES-WEST) continues to cover the western USA and eastern Pacific Ocean.
The GOES satellites (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) provide invaluable data for weather prediction and forecasting. The satellite is parked in geostationary orbit over the equator, 22,300 miles above the earth’s surface. It orbits the earth at the exact same speed that the earth rotates (one revolution in 24 hours), and is therefore effectively standing still over the same spot of the earth at all times – although it is actually moving 6,880 mph (11,070 km/h) to keep up with the earth as it spins!
Their job is to keep an eye on the weather over North America. Probably the most important job is to provide advance warning of earth’s most powerful storm, the hurricane, and watch during development stage over the ocean as it progresses and tracks. The timing couldn’t be better for activation of the GOES series newest and highest performance satellite, GOES-13, as we near hurricane season in the United States, which officially begins June 1.
- Visible and Infrared images of earth’s surface, oceans, and clouds
- Measure temperatures throughout the vertical height of the atmosphere
- Monitor the sun’s x-rays for solar flares as well as other space environment monitoring capabilities (solar protons, alpha particles, and earth’s magnetosphere)
- Search and Rescue signal monitoring from maritime distress signals and aircraft
- Improved pointing performance by using star-tracker technology (referencing its position relative to known stars) which greatly improves resolution storm tracking
As we approach hurricane season, those along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coast should begin to consider their preparedness plans. Although modern technology such as this latest weather satellite will help storm prediction, it will not stop the storm. You must plan now to react early, if and when weather warnings come your way. At a minimum, build up some food and water storage. Plan an early evacuation and plan multiple routes. Plan your destination now rather than later. Keep a 72 hour kit in your vehicle at all times. Always have extra cash available. If you are prepared, you stand a much better chance to survive, or at least to be comfortable in knowing you don’t have to panic or rush around with the mobs of the unprepared.