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NATURE

Weather tracker set for May launch

"GOES satellites help our forecasters to see both the big picture and small-scale storm features," said Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service   

April 30, 1999
Web posted at: 11:20 AM EDT





An advanced weather satellite, which will improve severe weather forecasting, is set for launch May 15 from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite will help forecasters better monitor and warn people of hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and other severe weather. Now called GOES-L, the satellite will be renamed NOAA GOES-11 once reaching geostationary orbit, according to NASA.

"GOES satellites are a mainstay of weather forecasting in the United States," said Gerry Dittberner, NOAA's GOES program manager. "They are the backbone of short-term forecasting, or nowcasting. GOES images of clouds are well-known to all Americans. The images can be seen on television weather forecasts every day."

Weather forecasters will use data from the GOES satellites in combination with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems to better warn and help prepare U.S. citizens for dangerous weather conditions. These warnings help to save lives, preserve property and benefit commercial interests, said NOAA officials. The satellites should help cut down the lead time for severe-weather reporting.

"GOES satellites help our forecasters to see both the big picture and small-scale storm features," said Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service. "Since they are designed to be stationary, GOES satellites act as steady eyes on the ever-changing weather and climate."

The United States operates two meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the Equator, one over the East Coast and one over the West Coast. NOAA GOES-10, launched on April 25, 1997, is currently overlooking the West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii. It is located at 135 degrees west longitude. NOAA GOES-8, launched in April 1994, is overlooking the East Coast out into the Atlantic Ocean and is positioned at 75 degrees west.

NOAA GOES-L will be stored in orbit ready for operation when needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or 10. "NOAA GOES-L will ensure continuity of GOES data from two GOES, especially for the Atlantic hurricane season," Dittberner said.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved



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