New Video 'GOES' Exploring the Sun's Weather

May 07, 2010 by Rob Gutro
New Video 'GOES' Exploring the Sun's Weather
NASA has just released a four-minute educational video called "A Weather Satellite Watches the Sun" explaining the uses of space weather instruments on the GOES satellites. Credit: NASA/Silvia Stoyanova

( -- The series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites known as GOES provide daily satellite images of weather here on Earth, but they also provide scientists with solar data and space weather observations in geosynchronous (over a fixed location on Earth's surface) orbit. NASA has just released a four-minute educational video called "A Weather Satellite Watches the Sun" explaining the uses of space weather instruments on the GOES satellites.

"The GOES instruments provide crucial data for determining the intensity of space weather events reported by forecasters using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Scales," said Howard Singer, Chief Scientist, Space Weather Prediction Center, Boulder, Colo.

The four-minute video was produced by Silvia Stoyanova, a visualizer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The video provides information about space weather, interviews with astronaut Paul Richards, NASA GOES Deputy Project Manager Andre' Dress, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center Chief Scientist Howard Singer and many others to explain the importance of space weather and monitoring space weather changes.

NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA's GOES Project located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the GOES series of satellites for NOAA on a cost reimbursable basis. NASA's GOES Project also creates some of the GOES satellite images and GOES animations.

GOES satellites continually monitor the solar and near-Earth space conditions and provide real-time data to scientists, forecasters, and space weather customers on Earth.

"Space weather" means the conditions on the sun, in the solar wind, and in the space surrounding Earth that affects human activities and technological systems. Space weather can affect satellite operations, cell phone reception, Global Positioning System (GPS) use, and power grids. NASA even uses the GOES satellite data to ensure that astronauts in the space shuttle, space station or on space walks are safe from solar particle events. Commercial airlines that fly polar routes also need to know about solar weather as it affects the ionosphere and high-frequency communications that they rely on at high latitudes.

There are two GOES satellites that cover weather conditions in the U.S. and they are positioned over the eastern and western U.S. GOES-13 is the satellite in the GOES EAST position that covers weather on the eastern side of the continental U.S., including the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. GOES-11 is in the GOES WEST position and covers the western half of the U.S. and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

GOES-13 has a Space Environment Monitor that consists of three instrument groups: an energetic particle sensor (EPS) package, two magnetometer sensors, and a solar x-ray sensor (XRS) and extreme ultra-violet sensor (EUVS).

The EPS accurately measures the number of particles over a broad energy range, including protons, electrons, and alpha particles, and is used to provide alerts and warnings of hazardous conditions. The magnetometer sensors measure the Earth's magnetic field and provide alerts of changes in the solar wind.

The XRS is an x-ray telescope that observes and measures the sun's solar x-rays in order to provide alerts for potential disruptions in radio communications and degradation in GPS signals. The EUVS is an extreme ultra-violet sensor that measures ultraviolet emissions from the sun. These ultraviolet emissions heat the Earth's upper atmosphere and affect the drag on low-orbiting spacecraft.

The final instrument on GOES satellites that helps monitor space weather is called the Solar X-Ray Imager, or SXI. Every minute the SXI captures an image of the sun's atmosphere in X-rays and provides the space weather forecasters with the necessary information to forecast alerts of potential harmful conditions to space and ground systems.

Those three Space Environment Monitor instrument groups and the SXI operate at all times providing real-time data to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).

The SPWC is the nation's civilian "space weather" center. SPWC receives, monitors, and interprets a wide variety of solar terrestrial data and issues reports, alerts, warnings, and forecasts for special events such as solar flares and geomagnetic storms.

Explore further: New Horizons spacecraft experiences anomaly

Related Stories

NASA to launch latest high-tech weather satellite

Mar 03, 2010

The United States is poised to launch Thursday the latest in its family of high-tech meteorological satellites that watch storm development and weather conditions on Earth from high in space.

NASA, NOAA ready GOES-P satellite for launch

Feb 22, 2010

NASA is preparing to launch the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-P (GOES-P) from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch is targeted for March ...

NASA's high-tech GOES-P weather satellite lifts off

Mar 05, 2010

NASA on Thursday launched the latest in its family of high-tech meteorological satellites, adding to a constellation of spacecraft that watch storm development and weather conditions on Earth.

NASA, NOAA Ready GOES-P Satellite for March 2 Launch

Feb 23, 2010

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-P, or GOES-P, is scheduled for launch aboard a Delta IV rocket on Tuesday, March 2, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-hour launch window extends ...

GOES-13 is America's new GOES-EAST satellite

Apr 17, 2010

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-13 became the official GOES-EAST satellite on April 14, 2010. GOES-13 was moved from on-orbit storage and into active duty. It is perched ...

Sophisticated weather satellite rockets into orbit

Jun 28, 2009

( -- The latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-O, soared into space today after a successful launch from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ...

Recommended for you

Engineers fine-tune new NASA space launch system

26 minutes ago

Researchers at the University of Georgia College of Engineering are helping NASA determine if a key rocket component can withstand the rigors of the next generation of space flight.

New Horizons spacecraft experiences anomaly

13 hours ago

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly the afternoon of July 4 that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Dwarf planet Ceres offers big surprises for scientists

13 hours ago

The closer we get to Ceres, the more perplexing the dwarf planet grows. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found several more bright spots as well as a pyramid-like peak jutting out of the frigid world's surface.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.