The first photos from a revolutionary new weather satellite are gorgeous

NOAA says the new images are four times the resolution of those taken by older weather satellites, and can provide a full image of Earth every 15 minutes and one of the continental US every five minutes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA sent the satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral on November 19, 2016. The first images included a composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere, which was made using several of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument's channels.

The Harris ABI, the main payload on the satellite, is a high-resolution digital camera with image resolution of one-tenth of a square mile, or four times better than current imagers, according to a statement released by Harris.

GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked across the surface of the Earth on January 15. "The data will boost weather observation network and ensure more accurate and timely weather forecast".

"These images come from the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth", Volz said.

As we've written before, GOES-R satellite has six instruments, two of which are weather-related. "The fantastically rich images provide us with our first glimpse of the impact GOES-16 will have on developing lifesaving forecasts".

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Along with the Advanced Baseline Imager, the new series of GOES weather satellites host lightning detectors and sensors to monitor solar activity and space weather.

See complete high-resolution images, released Monday, here.

Here are corresponding examples from GOES-16's "first light" images. Practically, this means we'll get a fresh-full-disk view of Earth every 15 minutes, a new view of the continental U.S. every 5 minutes, and a new view of weather systems (like hurricanes) every 30 seconds.

This satellite is expected to become operational sometime this fall.

In May, NOAA will announce the planned location for GOES-16.

The GOES-R series will return pictures of hotspots like hurricanes at a cadence of once every 30 seconds, an improvement from the five-minute rapid scans available today.

  • Toni Ryan