National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
OAA’s geostationary and polar-orbiting and spring snow melt advisories.
satellites provide critical data for short-term and Satellite sensors also detect ice fields
long-term weather forecasting, scientific and map the movements of sea and lake ice.
research, and monitor atmospheric conditions — giving
GOES hurricane tracking and intensity information is
us a better understanding of the Earth.
vital to the safety of more than 155 million people in
Our satellites also monitor environmental concerns, coastal communities and more than $3 trillion in real
such as severe weather events, El Niño and La Niña, estate investments along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and algae blooms.
Currently, NOAA has four GOES in space: two in
Real-Time Data for Better Forecasts operation, one in stored orbit as a backup, and one used
to provide better weather data of South America.
NOAA operates two types of satellites that provide
GOES have a life span of 5 years but are equipped with
real-time imagery daily: the Geostationary Operational
10 years of fuel if they go past their life cycle.
Environmental Satellite (GOES) and the Polar-
Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES). POES operates 540 miles
above the Earth. Because of their
GOES provides continuous monitoring from a fixed
polar orbiting nature, these
position more than 22,000 miles above the Earth. These
satellites can collect global data on
satellites take constant images and measurements of air,
a daily basis for a variety of land,
land, and water of the Western Hemisphere — on
ocean, and atmospheric
constant vigil for severe weather conditions such as
tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms, and hurricanes.
4 Weather analysis and forecasting
When these conditions develop, GOES can monitor
4 Climate research and prediction
storm development and track their movements.
4 Global sea surface temperature measurements
GOES imagery also is used 4 Atmospheric soundings of temperature and humidity
to estimate rainfall during the 4 Ocean dynamics research
thunderstorms and hurricanes 4 Volcanic eruption monitoring
for flash flood warnings, and 4 Forest fire detection
snowfall accumulations and 4 Global vegetation analysis
overall extent of snow cover. 4 Search and rescue
Such data help meteorologists
issue winter storm warnings
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POES also picks up distress 4 Climate Change – NOAA’s POES monitors
signals from emergency locator anomalies, such as rise in sea surface temperatures.
beacons and relays them to Search This is a key indicator of global climate change and
and Rescue authorities. POES has ocean acidification, which can significantly affect the
helped save an average of 250 lives ocean’s plant and animal life.
annually since 1982 in the U.S.
(See the latest rescue figures at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data,
http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/). and Information Service (NESDIS)
We currently have two satellites in orbit (a morning NESDIS is committed to improving NOAA’s
and afternoon satellite), which orbit the earth about satellites in order to provide better and more accurate
14 times a day covering a section of the Earth with each data. We are developing the next generation geostationary
orbit. This data is combined to provide global coverage satellite, GOES-R and the next series of polar orbiting
four times daily. POES have a general life span of satellites, NPOESS.
3.5 years, but may last longer. Scheduled to launch in 2015, GOES-R will better
define the threat area for hurricanes and other severe
Monitoring Space Weather
weather conditions by doubling the clarity of today’s
POES monitors disturbances and storms that swirl satellite imagery and provide more than 20 times
through space between the Earth and the Sun. These the information.
disturbances, e.g., solar flares, can disrupt power grids
NPOESS is a collaboration between NOAA, the
and Global Position Systems, interfer with airline and
Department of Defense and NASA. This new system,
military communication, and cover the Earth’s upper
expected to begin in 2013, will combine NOAA’s current
atmosphere with hazardous radiation.
polar satellite operations and the Defense's Meteoro-
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center uses this logical Satellite Program into one system that provides
data for accurate space weather forecasts. As our use of better data and imagery for improved weather forecasts
space increases, so must our ability to predict and detecting climate change.
conditions in space, safeguard human lives, and
For more information about NOAA’s Satellites,
protect our nation’s investment in new technologies.
Continuous Coverage of Our Changing Planet
To learn more about NOAA, visit http://www.noaa.gov.
NOAA satellites enable us to provide consistent,
long-term observations, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Monitoring the Earth from space helps us understand
how the Earth works and its affects on our daily lives.
With the vital information provided by NOAA
satellites, individuals, researchers, industries, emergency
planners, and policy-makers can make the most informed
decisions in a timely manner.
4 Weather Forecasts – During Hurricane Katrina,
GOES sent 716 images of the storm between
August 26 and August 30, 2005, which helped
with storm forecasting and emergency planing.