Sample Geology Paper on Space Weather Monitoring

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is the first of the next-generation geostationary weather satellites. Upon entering the geostationary orbit, GEOS-R was renamed GOES-16 (Fulbright et al. 2). The GOES-16 spacecraft is designed for ten years of on-orbit operation, with additional on-orbit storage of five years and was built by Lockheed Martin in Colorado. Weather forecasting satellites take images mainly in the visible, the IR, and the microwave bands with each band providing information about different features of the atmosphere, clouds, and weather patterns (Sullivan et al. 9). The GOES-16 is a weather satellite, which, upon completion of testing, will form part of the GOES system, operated by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GOES-16 was first launched at Cape Canaveral Air Force, Florida, to provide atmospheric and surface measurements for the western hemisphere of the world. It would thereby provide relevant data, which would be used for weather forecasting and climate research (Capderou 5).  It is regarded as an improved version of GOES 13-15 (N-P) system that performs similar functions of meteorological monitoring and weather forecasting. The data derived from GOES-16 is paramount in assisting meteorologists to fully comprehend the interaction between land and oceanic climates and atmospheres (Fulbright et al. 27).

Plans are underway to relocate GOES-16 from its current location, at an orbit of 89.5 degrees, to an assumed best location at an orbit of 75.2 degrees west longitude. The GOES-16 has proved to be effective, as it had recently sent the first set of high-resolution images. It has been created with an Advanced Baseline Imager instrument that captures high-resolution picture regardless of the weather conditions. Today, meteorologists are able to detect unpronounced features on the weather system due to its ability of taking images that have great spatial resolutions. The Advanced Baseline Imager, commonly known as ABI, onboard the GEOS-R is the United States’ next-generation geostationary advanced imager. The ABI is a state-of-the-art 16-band radiometer, with special bands covering the visible, near infrared and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Advanced Baseline Imager works efficiently and effectively by clearly capturing vital weather images after every 15 minutes. Additionally, ABI has the capability of taking full-disk images after every 30 seconds in areas likely to experience natural catastrophes such as wildfires, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions (Ilcev 102). The GOES-16 additionally captured an image of the continental United States, showing the significant storm system that crossed North America on 15 January 2017, and an image of the Caribbean and Florida, showing some of the shallow waters in the region (Carter et al. 8). The calibrated, geo-located ABI information will be used to produce a wide variety of weather and environmental data products and to monitor rapidly changing weather (Lindsey et al. 45).

GOES-16 is the most innovative weather satellite in the U.S. and it offers vast weather and environmental information than ever before, in real time, Additionally, it helps stranded sailors, hikers, and pilots via its emergency signal. GOES-16 has been developed with emergency beacons that serve to emit distress signals, which are detected by a transponder.  The detected emergency signals will thereafter be communicated to NOAA, which will quickly act by conveying the message to the relevant bodies for an urgent search-and-rescue mission (Sullivan et al. 29). Since SARSAT started in 1982, it has helped in saving about 40,000 individuals in the world, inclusive of approximately 8,000 in the United States and its adjoining territorial waters (Fulbright et al. 16). On 24 August 2016, NOAA satellites helped in the rescue operation of 45 people, who were stuck at sea, and in the process, set a record for the most significant single rescue-event ever in or around the United States, which was credited to NOAA (Fulbright et al. 16). In order to make GOES-16 functionally effective, NOAA plans to reposition it to an operational orbit at 75.2 degrees west longitude. This would be the most preferred position for GOES-16 to constantly monitor regions that are vulnerable to severe weather conditions that are otherwise regarded as natural catastrophes (Lindsey et al. 3). The targeted regions may be scanned after every 30 seconds. The ability of the GOES-16 to monitor regions susceptible to harsh weather conditions allows forecasters to analyze weather patterns and track the atmospheric conditions in real time. Weather prediction is further made accurate due to the high-resolution images produced by the GOES-16. The images provide enough data for meteorologists to better analyze and characterize the current weather condition.

The GOES-16 is equipped with two weather-related instruments. The first being a lightning mapper, which is designed to record lightning-strikes across and around North America continuously (Carter et al. 2). This lightening data will in-turn help forecasters to quickly predict flash floods and tornadoes that could occur alongside lightning bursts. Another vital part of GOES-16 is the manometer, which serves to provide clear measurements of the space environment magnetic field. Also, it has extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), which identify and watch solar irradiance in the higher atmosphere that may disrupt communications and degrade navigational correctness, thereby upsetting satellites (Capderou 23). Furthermore, the ultraviolet and X-ray irradiance sensors play an integral role in detecting variation in the rate of solar radiance. This information is eminently useful, as high solar radiation would have a negative impact on communication and navigation activities. This could occur as a result of the significant alterations to the ionosphere (Lindsey et al. 48). The three satellites of the Geospatial Operational Environmental Satellite series, which are monitoring the United States’ weather, are nearing the end of their lifespan. New-generation satellites, with improved and better features, are in production, which will only bolster their case for deployment and funding.

During frequent severe storms, the GOES-16 would utilize a lightning mapper to measure the frequent intra-cloud lightning. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) consists of a telescopic CCD camera, which is sensitive to 777.4 nm light and has a spatial resolution of 8 kilometers (5.0mi) (at nadir) to 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) and captures 500 frames per second (Lindsay et al. 56). The geostationary lightning mapper has also helped meteorologists to provide correct predictions on the probability of a tornado occurring in a given specific region The GOES-16 Unique Payload Services consist of transponder payloads that provide not only communications relay services but also primary mission data. The launch vehicle that will place the GOES-16 into geosynchronous orbit will be an Atlas V 541. The two-stage Atlas V 541, which has the right lift-off capability for heavyweight requirements, was chosen for the GOES-16 launch (Loto’aniu et al. 84).

The Atlas V 541 has three major components, namely: a payload fairing, which is approximately 5 meters in diameter; four solid-rocket boosters, which are fastened alongside the central common core booster; and an upper stage, which consists of a one-engine Centaur. With the current satellite development, a vast number of organizations are seeking to use the data provided by GOES-16. This is due to the fact that GOES-16 provides accurate and clear temporal, spectral, and spatial resolution images (Lindsay et al. 62). The GOES-16 is equipped with a Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) that performs the function of a telescope. Through the SUVI, weather scientists are able to view, characterize and analyze solar flares and coronal holes (Ilcev 102). The data collected by the SUVI will enable improved forecasting of space weather. The GOES-16 has a special ability to detect proton, electron, and heavy ion fluxes in the magnetosphere. This has been made possible as GOES-16 contains Space Environment In-Situ Suite, which has been developed with four unique sensors (Sullivan et al. 15).

The space weather instruments on GOES-16 have significantly improved capabilities over older GOES instruments. The GOES-16 is regarded as being the most effective weather satellite, as it has been created with six key instruments that serve to accurately predict weather conditions. These instruments include: Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), lightning mapping (GLM), solar observations (EXIS and SUVI), and space weather monitoring (SEISS and MAG) (Maini and Agrawal 55). To achieve quality results,  each instrument has to undergo the process of calibration and validation. In essence, GOES-16 has revolutionized the key aspect of weather forecasting. Concurrently, lives and properties have been saved, as people are constantly alerted on future weather catastrophes and how they can mitigate the effects of natural calamities.



Works Cited

Capderou, Michel. Satellites: Orbits and Missions. Springer Science & Business Media, 2006.

Carter, Delano, et al. “GOES-16 On-Orbit Dual Isolation Performance Characterization Results.” Proceedings of GNC 2017: 10th International ESA Conference on Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems, 29 May – 2 June 2017. Salzburg, Austria. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.

Fulbright, Jon P., et al. “Calibration/Validation Strategy for GOES-R L1b Data Products.” Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 10000: Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XX, edited by Roland Meynart, Steven P. Neeck and Toshiyoshi Kimura,  19 October 2016, Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.

Ilčev, Stojče Dimov. Global Satellite Meteorological Observation (GSMO) Theory. Vol. 1, Springer, 2017.

Lindsey, Daniel T., et al. “10.35 μm: Atmospheric Window on the GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager With Less Moisture Attenuation.” Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, vol. 6, 30 Oct. 2012, Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.

Loto’aniu, Paul, et al. “Space Weather Monitoring with GOES-16: Instruments and Data Products.” EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts, vol. 19, EGU2017-9663, 2017, Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.

Maini, Anil K. and Varsha Agrawal. Satellite Technology: Principles and Applications. 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Sullivan, Pamela C., et al. “An Overview of the Design and Development of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series (GOES-R) Space Segment.” Proceedings of the 2017 EUMETSAT Meteorological Satellite Conference, 02–06 Oct. 2017, Rome, Italy. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.