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Delta IV launches with GOES-P

US: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-P (GOES-P) launched through a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is a cooperative effort between NASA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It will take ten days for the satellite to manoeuvre to its geostationary equatorial orbit at 35,888 km (22,300 miles). Once there, GOES-P will get a new name: GOES-15.

It will take five months for all the instruments on board to be tested and calibrated. After that, GOES-15 will be a back-up satellite, stored on-orbit and ready for activation should one of the operational GOES satellites degrade or exhaust their fuel.

NOAA has two operational GOES satellites: GOES-12 in the east and GOES-11 in the west. Each provides continuous observations of environmental conditions in North, Central and South America and the surrounding oceans. GOES-13 is being moved to replace GOES-12, which will be positioned to provide coverage for South America as part of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems, or GEOSS.

GOES-P is the last of the current generation of weather and environmental satellites built for NOAA in cooperation with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. After reaching geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the US, GOES-P will undergo six months of extensive post-launch testing prior to being parked on-orbit and ready to be activated when the next GOES satellite needs to be replaced.

In addition to producing the now-familiar weather pictures seen daily on U.S. newscasts, GOES satellites provide early warnings of severe weather conditions like tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes. The satellites provide meteorologists with nearly continuous images as well as temperature and moisture data, enabling more accurate weather forecasts. GOES data are also used for climate/weather prediction models, ocean temperature charting, ice, snow and glacier mapping, land temperature measurement and monitoring agricultural crop conditions.

ITT has provided two weather sensors to GOES-P. ITT’s Geospatial Systems team in Fort Wayne, Ind. designed and built the imager and sounder instruments. Currently, the company is working with NOAA and NASA to build GOES-R. This next-generation environmental satellite will include the most advanced meteorological imaging instrument ever built for operational weather forecasting, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). It will monitor three times the number of atmospheric conditions currently measured and produce images that can discern objects as small as one-half kilometer in size. It is much faster, updating data every 30 seconds versus the current rate of 7.5 minutes. At that speed, ABI can create a full-earth image in five minutes versus 30 minutes for the current imagers.

ABI also will zoom in and track a single storm while simultaneously collecting continent-wide data and imagery. All of these improvements add up to faster and more accurate forecasts, improved hazardous weather tracking and an increased capability to study and monitor climate change.

Source: geospatial.itt.com ; universetoday.com