On June 27, 2009, NASA successfully launched GOES-14, the newest in a long line of workhorse weather satellites, and will soon turn over operation of the bird to NOAA. Most of the images you see on TV weather reports come from the GOES satellites. They’re low-resolution, but cover huge chunks of the planet in a single view. And since they are geostationary (the “G” in GOES) — parked at an altitude of 22,000 miles where the orbital motion of the satellite precisely keeps time with the rotation of the earth — these satellites are continuously monitoring cloud patterns and other atmospheric parameters, allowing forecasters to predict the weather and keep a close eye on severe storms.
Here at SkyTruth, we use GOES images to help us track the motion of hurricanes that threaten offshore oil and gas facilities, and to evaluate the wind and rain conditions in an area when we’re acquiring satellite radar images to detect and map oil slicks. With another hurricane season upon us, we’re glad to see this perfect launch.