GOES-R Successful Launch and Its Implications for the Future of Meteorology

As of 6:42 P.M.November 19th, 2016, NASA launched its revolutionary, next generation weather satellite, GOES-R, into space. After long periods of delays the satellite has finally launched and now we all wait in eager anticipation for it to begin transmitting valuable weather data back to us on Earth. All in all, it will take around 6 months to make sure everything is working properly on the satellite and then some time to check the data and make sure what the satellite is sending back is useful to us. So what does this mean for our forecasting abilities?

Our forecasting abilities will only continue to get better. The data we will be receiving from the GOES-R will be of higher resolution than what we have previously received from weather satellites and it will also update on a higher frequency than what we have seen before. This will allow us to use this higher input data not only for the forecast models, but to better predict things such as Mid-Latitude Cyclone and Hurricane tracks. This will allow for more warnings to go out in faster times to give people in danger a larger time frame to prepare for oncoming weather. Anytime that the window of warning can be extended by even a few minutes allows more lives to be saved when dealing with severe weather.

The other interesting thing about this GOES-R satellite is that it is the first satellite to have a lightening mapper with it in orbit. This will allow for the satellite to record lightning strikes and report them back as data. This can then be used to determine where severe weather is occurring without solely having to rely on weather radar and observations. This again will give more leeway to the National Weather Service and other local Meteorologists to be able to warn the public of inclement weather farther ahead of time than they currently have the ability to.

The GOES-R is still a year away from being able to provide us with this useful data, but now that it is finally in orbit, it is the start to a revolutionary change to weather forecasting. Once the data is available for use next year, forecasts will only improve greatly and many more lives will be saved from dangerous inclement weather situations.

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The GOES-R satellite streaks into space aboard an Atlas V rocket in this long-exposure view of its successful launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Nov. 19, 2016.

Credit: United Launch Alliance and space.com

 

 

 

 

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Supermoon on the Horizon

Tonight and tomorrow night are the prime times to see the biggest event of the year! Look to the sky and you will see the Full Beaver Moon, but it is a special full moon this month. Known as the supermoon, it is a full moon that coincides with the moon being in the closest position in its orbit too the Earth.

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Image credit to NASA

The moon travels in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, such that one side of the orbit is closer to the Earth than the other. This causes the moon to appear brighter in the sky during times in the Perigee and less luminescent during times it is in the apogee. The moon will be at its brightest and look the biggest in the sky right when it becomes full.  Unfortunately for us here in North America, that happens right before and during sunrise, so you will have to either get up early or try and catch the moon before it disappears in the brightening morning sky! Either way, it should make for some great photo opportunities! Do not fret! The moon will also be visible on Monday night in its “full” glory!

Supermoons, as grandiose as the name sounds, are named solely for their size and not their rarity. Supermoons occur roughly every 13-14 full moons, which equates to around 1 a year. The rarity of these supermoons is when they occur during the Perigee. The last time the moon was this close to the Earth was back on January 26, 1948! The next time the moon will be this close to the Earth is going to be in a couple of decades on November 25, 2034! Make sure to get out and take some pictures of this spectacular spacey spectacle!

 

Photos: This year’s supermoon from our telescope!