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GOES I - M mission graphic

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, I-M Series

Phase: Past

Launch Date: April 13, 1994

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Program(s):GOES / POES

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The GOES I-M satellites are the primary element of U.S. weather monitoring and forecast operations and are a key component of NOAA's National Weather Service operations and modernization program. Spacecraft and ground-based systems work together to accomplish the mission of providing weather imagery and quantitative sounding data that form a continuous and reliable stream of environmental information used for weather forecasting and related services.

Designed to operate in geosynchronous orbit, 35,790 km (22,240 statute miles) above the earth, thereby remaining stationary, the advanced GOES I-M spacecraft continuously view the continental United States, neighboring environs of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and Central and South America. The three-axis, body-stabilized spacecraft design enables the sensors to “stare” at the earth and thus more frequently image clouds, monitor earth’s surface temperature and water vapor fields, and sound the atmosphere for its vertical thermal and vapor structures. Thus the evolution of atmospheric phenomena can be followed, ensuring real-time coverage of short-lived dynamic events, especially severe local storms and tropical cyclones — two meteorological events that directly affect public safety, protection of property, and ultimately, economic health and development. The importance of this capability has recently been exemplified during hurricanes Hugo (1989) and Andrew (1992).

The GOES I-M series of satellites has provided significant improvements over previous GOES systems in weather imagery and atmospheric sounding information, particularly in the forecasting of life- and property-threatening severe storms.

The GOES I-M satellites introduced two new features. The first feature, flexible scan, offers small-scale area imaging that lets meteorologists take pictures of local weather trouble spots. This allows them to improve short-term forecasts over local areas. The second feature, simultaneous and independent imaging and sounding, is designed to allow weather forecasters to use multiple measurements of weather phenomena to increase the accuracy of their forecasts.

GOES-8 (I) Launch Date: April 13, 1994

The GOES-8 system performs the following basic functions: Acquisition, processing, and dissemination of imaging and sounding data; acquisition and dissemination of Space Environment Monitor (SEM) data; reception and relay of data from ground-based Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) that are situated in carefully selected urban and remote areas to the NOAA Command and Data Acquisition (CDA) station. GOES-8 also provides a continuous relay of Weather Facsimile (WEFAX) and other data to users, independent of all other functions. A 'fringe benefit' of GOES-8 is its ability to relay distress signals from people, aircraft, or marine vessels to the search and rescue ground stations of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system. The GOES-8 spacecraft is operational as GOES-EAST at 75W, and is still providing clear imagery.

GOES-9 (J) Launch Date: May 23, 1995

The GOES-9 system performs the same basic functions as GOES-8B though many small improvements were made to GOES-9 to correct problems discovered during the construction, launch and operation of GOES-8. The Earth sensors on GOES-9 are less sensitive to sunglight, and thus produce better images. The GOES-9 spacecraft is operational as GOES-WEST at 135W.

GOES-10 (K) Launch Date: April 25, 1997

The GOES-10 system performed the same basic functions as GOES-8 and GOES-9. GOES-10 was intended to serve as an “on orbit spare,” but operated for nearly eight years as “GOES-WEST” after GOES-9’s momentum wheels threatened to fail. GOES-10 also performed scans of the southern USA and South America. The satellite was decommissioned, Dec. 1, and is being moved to a “disposal orbit.” Full status.

GOES-11 (L) Launch Date: May 3, 2000

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-L (GOES-L) is the fourth satellite in a series of next generation geosynchronous spacecraft, referred to as GOES-NEXT and represented by the GOES-I through GOES-M spacecraft. The mission objectives are to maintain reliable operational, environmental and storm warnings systems, monitor the Earth's surface and space environmental conditions, introduce improved atmospheric and oceanic observations and data dissemination capabilities, and develop and provide new and improved applications and products for a wide range of federal agencies, state and local governments and private users.

General schematic of GOES series.

GOES-12 (M) Launch Date: July 23, 2001

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-M (GOES-M) is the fifth satellite in a series of next generation geosynchronous spacecraft, referred to as GOES-NEXT and represented by the GOES-I through GOES-M spacecraft. GOES-M is the first to have a sophisticated operational instrument for detecting solar storms. The GOES-M satellite will give the space weather forecasters the tools to better detect the sun's solar storms and predict how these solar flares might impact power grids and electronic systems on Earth due to a new instrument called a solar X-ray imager. The solar X-ray imager will take a full and detailed snapshot of the sun's atmosphere each minute. The images will be used by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to forecast the intensity and speed of solar disturbances that could destroy satellite electronics, disrupt long-distance radio communications, or surge power grids. The imager enables forecasters to better protect billions of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground. In addition to solar flare warnings, the GOES-M will become a workhouse satellite for NOAA. The real-time weather data gathered by NOAA's GOES satellites, combined with data from the agency's Doppler radars on the ground and automated surface observing systems, greatly aids weather forecasters in providing better warnings of thunderstorms, winter storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather. These warnings help to save lives, preserve property, and benefit commercial interests.