The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new satellite is scheduled to launch in a month, providing an upgrade officials say will offer more frequent and better data than its predecessors.
The satellite, GOES-R, will provide faster and more accurate weather forecasting and warnings, Stephen Volz, NOAA’s assistant administrator for satellite and information services, told reporters Tuesday. He said its data will give local officials more time to make decisions on evacuating communities during extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.
“Without a doubt, the GOES-R will revolutionize weather forecasting as we know it,” Volz said. “For weather forecasters, GOES-R is like going from black and white television to super-high-definition TV.”
The new satellite will have four-times greater image resolution, making it easier for forecasters to see finer features, said Greg Mandt, NOAA’s GOES-R program manager. And the new satellite will be five-times faster, Mandt said, scanning from the North Pole to the South Pole in about five minutes.
“In addition, it’ll have the ability to zoom in on a specific storm, like a tornado… or a hurricane, and look at it every thirty seconds, thereby revolutionizing our ability to forecast weather in near-real time,” Mandt said.
Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, said the team is excited about receiving data of the continental U.S. in five-minute intervals and having the option to receive data for specific events, among other advances.
Mandt agreed: “We’re getting the data to the weather forecasters so fast, their comments to me is that ‘Greg, instead of seeing what has happened you are providing data in real time, so we’re really watching what’s happening right now,’” he said. “So the excitement is really building out in the weather service community.”
Uccellini said NOAA has been doing prep work and testing algorithms to make sure it is ready to take advantage of the massive amounts of data that the new satellite will bring.
“GOES-R is a major step forward in our efforts to build a weather-ready nation,” Uccellini said. “By advancing our observation capabilities to this extraordinary level, we will able to offer… new and improved forecasts and warnings and related services from the sun to the sea to help save lives and property.”
The satellite launches Nov. 4 for testing, before becoming fully operational later on, Mandt said.
NOAA decided last year to delay the launch of GOES-R from March to October 2016, which the Government Accountability Office said “was due to poor schedule performance over the last few years (losing more than 10 days a month on average), recent technical issues with key components and little schedule margin as the program entered integration testing.”