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Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

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The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program is a key element in National Weather Service[?] (NWS) operations. GOES weather imagery[?] and quantitative sounding data[?] are a continuous and reliable stream of environmental[?] information used to support weather forecasting, severe storm tracking[?], and meteorological research[?]. Evolutionary improvements in the geostationary satellite system[?] since 1974 (i.e., since the first Synchronous Meteorological Satellite[?], SMS-1) have been responsible for making the current GOES system the basic element for U.S. weather monitoring and forecasting. Spacecraft and ground-based systems[?] work together to accomplish the GOES mission.

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 spacecraft are the principal observational platforms for covering such dynamic weather events and the near-earth space environment for the 1990s and into the 21st century. These advanced spacecraft enhance the capability of the GOES system to continuously observe and measure meteorological phenomena[?] in real time, providing the meteorological community and the atmospheric scientist greatly improved observational and measurement data of the Western Hemisphere. In addition to short-term weather forecasting and space environmental monitoring, these enhanced operational services also improve support for atmospheric science research, numerical weather prediction models[?], and environmental sensor[?] design and development.

The main mission is carried out by the primary payload instruments, the Imager and the Sounder. The Imager is a multichannel instrument that senses radiant energy[?] and reflected solar energy[?] from the earth's surface and atmosphere. The Sounder provides data for vertical atmospheric temperature[?] and moisture profiles[?], surface[?] and cloud top[?] temperature, and ozone distribution.

Other instruments on board the spacecraft are the search and rescue transponder, ground-based meteorological platform data collection and relay, and the space environment monitor. The latter consists of a magnetometer, an X-ray sensor, a high energy proton[?] and alpha detector, and an energetic particles[?] sensor, all used for in-situ surveying of the near-earth space environment.

In addition, the GOES satellites carry sensors carrying ELT and EPIRB receivers, which are used for search-and-rescue purposes by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center[?]

Note: original entry taken from "GOES I-M Databook (http://rsd.gsfc.nasa.gov/goes/text/goes.databook)" forword

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