Launch of GOES-R satellite a game-changing moment for weather forecasting

goes r weather satellite launch 30355287434 0cecd02e0c b
For a few brief moments Saturday night, the meteorological community held its collective breath as United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. Its payload couldn’t be more important: Aboard was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-R satellite, which represented the beginning of a multiyear effort to revolutionize America’s weather satellite program and future-proof it through 2036.

“The next generation of weather satellites is finally here,” mused NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. It’s not hyperbole either: Instead of images of the continental United States every 15 minutes, we’ll now get images every five. In severe weather events, local areas would have high-definition imagery available every 30 seconds, something that current GOES satellites cannot do.

This changes the game when it comes to severe weather prediction, according to scientists. Meteorologists would be able to watch the life cycles of storms in incredible detail. “The launch of GOES-R represents a major step forward in terms of our ability to provide more timely and accurate information that is critical for lifesaving weather forecasts and warnings,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

GOES-R will do more than just produce high-definition satellite imagery for your evening news. The satellite also has the first geostationary lightning mapper in orbit, a big deal for severe weather research. Combined with the quick updating satellite imagery, the ability to show lightning in near real time could help increase tornado lead times.

Recent studies suggest that a sharp increase in lightning activity may precede tornadic activity. While the research is in its infancy, the lightning mapper may provide further evidence of a connection — something researchers hope to use in future severe storm forecasting.

Another area that will see vast improvement is solar monitoring. While the primary aim of GOES-R is to monitor earth-based weather, space weather is an increasingly important topic. Solar flares can disrupt our satellites and communications infrastructure, so having a new line of defense will assist in giving us early warning of potential issues long before they reach Earth.

All in all, some 34 products — either new or vastly improved — will be available to scientists. While the satellite will make its way to its storage point sometime in early December, it won’t be placed into service until later in 2017. It’s unknown at this time whether it will replace GOES-East, which watches the Eastern U.S .and Western Atlantic, or GOES-West, which monitors the Western United States and Eastern Pacific. That decision should come sometime in early 2017, NASA says.

All told, four satellites will be launched as part of the GOES-R ‘series.’ GOES-S is slated to launch in 2018, followed by GOES-T in 2019, and finally GOES-U in 2024. As each new satellite is brought online, older ones will be decommissioned or placed in storage. NASA and NOAA always plan to have at least one satellite in position as a backup in case anything goes wrong.

Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.

Humans will accompany autonomous shuttles as they take over our cities

Autonomous shuttles could become the first widespread, real-world application of level-five autonomous technology. They won't be entirely human-less, though. Human intervention could keep the shuttles safe and boost consumer acceptance.

Here's everything we know about the upcoming Nokia 8.1 Plus phone

Nokia will be looking to kick off 2019 will a cracker of a phone, and the Nokia 8.1 Plus could be that phone. From the rumored pinhole display to the Zeiss cameras, here's everything we know about the Nokia 8.1 Plus.
Emerging Tech

Stomach implant device uses jolts of electricity to fight obesity

An implant created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could help fight obesity by attaching to users' stomachs and then suppressing feelings of hunger using jolts of electricity.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.