Planets

New Weather Satellite Shows Stunning View of Earth

The NOAA's brand new Earth-observing satellite GOES-16 is up and running and taking some beautiful portraits of our home planet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hasn't yet decided where it's going to place its newest weather satellite, but one thing is clear: GOES-16 (previously known as GOES-R) has a stunning view of Earth.

High-resolution pictures taken by the satellite's Advanced Baseline Imager instrument show the view from 22,300 miles above the equator, including a composite color, full-disk image of the western hemisphere taken on Jan. 15.

The ABI , which can take a full disk image of Earth every 15 minutes and a picture of the continental United States every five minutes, is among the technological upgrades in GOES-16, the first of NOAA's next-generation weather satellites.

"The image is much more than a pretty picture, it is the future of weather observations and forecasting," National Service Weather director Louis Uccellini said in a statement.

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"High resolution imagery from GOES-16 will provide sharper and more detailed views of hazardous weather systems and reveal features that previous instruments might have missed ... As a result, forecasters can issue more accurate, timely, and reliable watches and warnings, and provide better information to emergency managers and other decision makers."

The full-disk image of Earth's western hemisphere is among 25 images released on Monday, including a 16-panel series showing the United States in two optical, four near-infrared and 10 infrared wavelengths. A personal favorite: this view, taken for calibration purposes, of the moon seemingly pinned in its orbit around Earth:

GOES-R, which was renamed GOES-16 when it reached orbit, was launched on Nov. 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NOAA will announce in May whether the new bird will be positioned in an eastern or western location. It is expected to become operational in November.

The next satellite in the series, GOES-S, is slated to fly in 2018.

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