NOAA’s newest weather satellite, GOES-18, has become operational as GOES-West and now is providing exceptional imagery and data just in time for the impacts of a bomb cyclone moving along another Pineapple Express event in the western United States. While GOES-18 has just officially entered operational service, the satellite has been assisting NOAA National Weather Service forecasters for months. Usually, GOES satellites complete post-launch testing in a location over the central U.S., but GOES-18’s early successes allowed NOAA to move it to its future operational location early.
GOES-18 is replacing a flawed GOES-17 satellite that was in its place earlier. Due to an issue with the cooling system on GOES-17’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument, some GOES-17 imagery was degraded during certain times of the year. In August, NOAA implemented a unique solution to mitigate the loss of some GOES-17 imagery during these “warm” periods. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 8 and from Oct. 13 to Nov. 16, NOAA provided data from the GOES-18 ABI to GOES West data users. This was accomplished through a data “interleave” that delivered GOES-18 ABI data alongside GOES-17 lightning mapper and space weather data. This allowed forecasters to utilize GOES-18 imagery during the height of the Pacific hurricane season.
The new #GOESWest weather satellite became fully operational yesterday! So awesome to have full coverage of this side of the world with 2 fully functional high-tech satellites! pic.twitter.com/z3pV9uPcJ7
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) January 5, 2023
According to NOAA, now that GOES-18 is operating as GOES-West, GOES-17 will be moved to a central location between GOES East and GOES West to serve as a backup for the operational constellation. While it isn’t performing 100% to initial specifications, it could come in handy should GOES-East or -West run into issues in the coming years.
The GOES-R Series Program is a four-satellite mission that includes GOES-R (GOES-16, launched in 2016), GOES-S (GOES-17, launched in 2018), GOES-T (GOES-18), and GOES-U, which is scheduled to launch in 2024. The program is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA. NASA builds and launches the satellites for NOAA, which operates them and distributes their data to users worldwide.