If you are a weather enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the new GOES-16 weather satellite that was launched into orbit last year. The satellite is capable of taking and transmitting back to earth images of weather happening right now, in stunning high-resolution detail. Here are just a few examples.
One of the first images GOES-16 sent back was this full-disk shot of the the western hemisphere, complete with North and South America, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. What’s remarkable is the detail the picture shows of clouds, and not just the large cloud decks over North America, but the smaller clouds that dot the Caribbean Sea and Central Atlantic. And this was just a first image, and not in the full resolution the satellite is capable of.
To give you an example of some of the operational uses of the new satellite, these water vapor images from February 9th show the GOES-16 image and the image taken at the same time from the older, GOES-13 satellite. The level of detail is obvious at first glance to the normal observer. The most important thing about images like these is the information that meteorologists can gather. Special features like mountain waves and troughs are pointed out here. This kind of detail can give forecasters a better idea of what kind of weather will impact these areas after a system like this moves through.
To round things out, GOES-16 is not just taking pictures of Earth. It’s high-powered camera is capturing stunning images of the Sun using its Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). The satellite is taking pictures of the Sun at six different wavelengths, which allows the observer to see features like coronal holes, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Recognizing these solar phenomena can be crucial to providing information to telecommunication companies who have satellites orbiting the earth as well. Solar flares and mass ejections can cause disruption to communications here.
We will be sure to update you on the latest images sent back from the GOES-16, and when the satellite becomes fully operational, the Storm Track Weather Team will use it to give you more accurate forecasts of weather that will impact you.