Next-gen weather satellite to improve forecasting worldwide

A newly launched weather satellite could save lives by better predicting extreme weather.

The most advanced weather satellite ever built rocketed into space earlier in November, part of an $11 billion effort to revolutionize forecasting.

This new GOES-R spacecraft will track U.S. weather as never before: hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, volcanic ash clouds, wildfires, lightning storms, even solar flares.

“Really a quantum leap above any satellite NOAA has ever flown,” said Stephen Volz, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s director of satellites.

It will churn out full images of the Western Hemisphere every 15 minutes and the continental United States every five minutes. Specific storm regions will be updated every 30 seconds.

Satellite launching into space (NASA)
The GOES-R next-generation weather satellite launched on November 19 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. (NASA)

This revolutionary new weather satellite also is part of a bigger picture.

GOES-R joins an international network of satellites that share data freely among almost 200 countries, the Washington Post reported. The United States provides data to other nations so they can generate precise forecasts and alert people to prepare for weather events. In turn, those countries share their data with the U.S. National Weather Service, the Post reported.

Airline passengers also stand to benefit, as do rocket launch teams. Improved forecasting will help pilots avoid bad weather and help rocket scientists know when to call off a launch.

GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. The first was launched in 1975.

Forecasters will get pictures “like they’ve never seen before,” NOAA program director Greg Mandt said.

ShareAmerica contributed to this report.