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Goes-R Launch To Pave Way For Weather Forecasting

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Cape Canaveral, Florida -- The latest and greatest in weather satellites launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Saturday evening, under the cover of darkness.

After an hour delay, the Atlas V rocket carrying NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) lifted off the pad at 6:42 p.m. EST.

"GOES-R will strengthen NOAA's ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and make the United States an even stronger, more resilient weather-ready nation," said Kathryn Sullivan, a NOAA Administrator.

GOES-R boasts a range of scientific features including the first ever Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). The GLM will be the first of it's kind lightning mapper that can identify lightning flashes, both Cloud-To-Cloud and Cloud-To-Ground. The U.S. currently relies on a ground system of lightning detectors to detect lightning flashes in a region.

It also contains the most Advanced Baseline Imager of it's kind. The ABI will provide images of the Earth and it's weather, oceans, and atmospheric environment through 16 different visual spectral bands, including two visible channels, four near-infrared channels, and ten infrared channels. The ABI will also provide the option for rapid scan satellite imagery updating every 30 seconds. The current GOES satellites offer satellite imagery updates every 30 minutes.

The satellite also houses a variety of tools to monitor solar irradiance of ultra violet and x-ray radiation from the Earth, as well as magnetic and solar activity from the sun. These sensors will help improve space weather forecasting for major solar storms which could cause infrastructural damage to satellite and GPS communications. These solar storms are often the culprit of the Northern Lights due to the immense solar radiation they produce through our atmosphere.

GOES-R will also aid Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System throughout the world. The satellite houses a special transponder that can receive and transmit distress signals that are sent out.

This is the first of four satellites NOAA and NASA will be joint launching. GOES-S, -T, and -U will be launched between 2018 and 2024. Once all four are launched, the satellites will provide weather forecasting data and geostationary coverage for the United States through 2036.

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