GOES Tech Notes
last update 18 September 2015
Table of Contents
- GOES-8 (GOES-EAST) Imager routine operations schedule for the 24 hour day, deduced from springtime operations in 1995.
NOAA has 3 operational scan scenarios:
In the GOES routine schedule scan mode, two views at approximately 15
minute intervals of the CONUS (GOES-8) or PACUS (GOES-9) are provided in a
half hour period. A northern hemisphere scan is also included in the 30
During GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSO), 4 views of the CONUS (GOES-8) or
Sub-CONUS (GOES-9) are provided at approximately 7.5 minute intervals in a
half hour period. A northern hemisphere scan for both GOES is also
included in the 30 minute cycle.
During GOES Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO), approximately 10 one minute
interval scans are provided every half hour using prescribed 1000x1000km
sectors. The remaining time in the half hour cycle is devoted to scans of
the northern hemisphere and CONUS (GOES-8) or Sub-CONUS (GOES-9).
When GOES RSO or SRSO is utilized, most of the southern hemisphere is not
The corresponding GOES-8 schedules are:
- GOES-9 (GOES-WEST) Imager routine and rapid-scan operations schedule for the 24 hour day.
Meanwhile, witness a day of GOES-WEST operations as an MPEG movie.
- The routine schedule is always altered by events described in the GOES operations schedule for this week.
- In a Simulated animation of NOAA's standard 3-hour operational cycle,
the progress of GOES-8 images are updated at 5-minute intervals, showing the progress of north-to-south scans. The small CONUS and South American images take just 5 minutes to acquire. About 10 minutes out of every hour is used by GOES-8 for radiance calibration and stellar navigation instead of Earth-imaging. A full earth disk takes almost 30 minutes, and is taken once every 3 hours.
- Compare the ideal cycle to an actual frame-by-frame animation of the 24-hour cycle, constructed from observations on December 27th in the 11 micron channel.
There are similar animations in other channels on other days.
- NOAA's WEFAX page
- NOAA's Special Bulletins about Satellites
- All Operational WEFAX problems should be first addressed to the NOAA QC POC, Sam Patterson.
FB4 Rm. 0312 E/SP11
Suitland Federal Center
Suitland, Maryland 20233
Voice: 301-457-5205 Fax: 301-457-5199
- If the GOES data stream seems corrupted, call SOCC
- The full-Earth images are internationally coordinated with the other geo-satellites to make a synoptic cloud analysis of the globe every 3 hours.
- NOAA's science tests of GOES-9 in the first two weeks of September.
GOES-8 and GOES-9 will be running under a special observing schedule at night during the beginning and end of each eclipse season to avoid heating the GOES-9 Imager scan motor.
|5 years, minimum
|2 meter (7 foot) cube
|27 meters (88 feet)
||2100 kg (4600 lb)
|36,000 km (22,000 mi)
|75W and 135W
|Equatorial, within 0.5 degree
||1050 watts @ 42 volts, solar array; battery backup
||Imager and Sounder in GVAR format at 2.1 Mbits/sec
- GOES spectral response curves are available via anonymous FTP from NASA-GSFC. More up-to-date filter functions are available from NOAA-NESDIS.
- Some spectral response curves are also available via HTTP from NASA-GISS
- Imager Calibration coefficients, formulas, and advice direct from OSO-NOAA.
- Imager Visible Calibration coefficients, formulas, and advice direct from NESDIS-NOAA.
- GOES image calibration is performed using NOAA's calibration coefficients embedded in the broadcast GVAR data stream.
- NOAA Technical Memorandum NESDIS 44, "Operational Calibration of the Imagers and Sounders on the GOES-8 and -9 Satellites", Mike Weinreb, et al.
- The trend in decreased throughput for the visible channel on the Imager is several percent per year (7.7% for GOES-8 and 5.0% for GOES-9), based on the apparent brightness of stars. The decrease fits an exponetial curve. It is due to radiation darkening of the coating used on the scan mirror. Unfortunately, the same coating is being used for all the ITT instruments, at least through GOES-O.
- The time series of the responsivities of the GOES Imagers' visible channels, determined from repeated observations of 40 stars, have been extended to May 2002. Averaging the results from all 40 stars, the yearly losses in responsivity for the visible channels of the Imagers on GOES-8 and GOES-10 were found to be 5.3 +/- 0.11% and 6.9 +/- 0.13%, respectively. Until GOES-9 was deactivated in May 1998, the visible channel on its Imager lost 5.4 +/- 0.28% per year.
- Imager Calibration coefficients, formulas, and advice from here at NASA.
- GOES-8/9 Imager and Sounder Calibration coefficients, copied from NOAA memos in the mid-1990's.
- Sounder Calibration coefficients, formulas, and advice (under construction).
- There are always issues:
- Calibration-Validation Overview.
- There is upper/lower detector striping due to independent calibration of the two infrared detectors used to make this high contrast picture using channel 5 (12 microns) to observe the upper east coast of the USA in September 1994.
- After launch, there was a noticeable east-west calibration error in the apparent brightness of outer space at 11 microns because the scan mirror emissivity and reflectivity changes by a few percent across the scene. A software correction has been installed in the ground system to correct for the effect.
- Imager calibration was worked in the post-launch tune-up of GOES-8.
- Sun glare at midnight:
- Sun glare movies for August 24th, in the GOES-8 visible, with less in the 3.9 micron IR, and not apparent in the 11 micron IR. Glare and glint are unavoidable problems in geosynchronous orbit. GOES-7 and GMS-4 suffer similar glare at their local midnights. Normal sun glint occurs in reflection from the oceans and clouds when the sun is behind and to the side of the satellite.
- Photo composite of GOES-8 hourly images with significant sun glare near local midnight (06:00 UTC) on July 24th, in the visible, and less so in the 3.9 micron IR, but not apparent in the 11 micron IR.
- Sun glare will also upset radiometric calibration for 2 hours on either side of midnight during the month before and after the spring and autumn equinoxes, especially in channel 2 every July.
By August, scattered sunlight in the face of the GOES-8 Imager near midnight shows up in almost every channel:
- The infrared detectors in the SN04 Imager on GOES-9 are the most sensitive ones used in the entire GOES-I/M series:
A preliminary assessment of the performance of the infrared channels
of the GOES-9 Imager was made on June 16, after the detector-patch
temperature had stabilized at 101K. GOES-9 performance, in general, beats
specification and GOES-8 performance. The responsivities of all seven IR
detectors were within 2% of their prelaunch values. It is noteworthy that the
significant responsivity losses that affected channels 2 and 3 of
the GOES-8 Imager were not reproduced on GOES-9. (The higher responsivity
in GOES-9's channel 2 still allows the sensor to observe a maximum scene
temperature of approximately 325K.)
Noise in the GOES-9 Imager's IR channels, tabulated below, is far
lower than the specified maxima and even below the GOES-8 values.
NOISE (in degrees K @ 300K, unless otherwise noted)
Channel GOES-9 GOES-8 Specification (max)
2A 0.11 0.20 1.4
2B 0.11 0.22 1.4
3 0.14 0.18 1.0 (all values at @ 230K)
4A 0.09 0.12 0.35
4B 0.08 0.10 0.35
5A 0.18 0.22 0.35
5B 0.19 0.22 0.35
- The visible channel on GOES-9 is about 16% (+-2%) more sensitive than GOES-8's, according to a test conducted by Mike Weinreb at NOAA-NESDIS in July 1995.
- Radiance saturation in Channel 2 is a problem for GOES-9 and GOES-10.
Because of the strong nonlinear increase in radiance with temperature and reflected sunlight at 4 microns (Imager channel 2), this channel can saturate over sunglint oceans, hot deserts, and large wildfires. This is particularly common with the Imagers on GOES-9 and GOES-10, where the saturation level corresponds to 320 K. On the other Imagers, the saturation level is between 330 K and 340 K, and radiance saturation is rare.
- Imager acuity is set by NOAA's reqirements on the Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) for resolving high spatial frequencies in each channel.
- Sounder acutiy is set by NOAA's requirements on the encircled energy.
GVARIngest and image processing
NOAA-OSD site with latest GVAR documentation
You can order raw broadcast data from the NOAA-NESDIS Satellite Active Archive (SAA), in the GOES format known as GVAR.
NASA copies of GVAR Documentation
- NOAA's GVAR Users Guide (circa 1998)
- SOCC's on-line information about GVAR
Description of the GOES data ingest and file service system at NASA-GSFC. (PDF format, from the SPIE 96 Conference "GOES-8 and Beyond")
- NASA-developed portable C++ code to read GVAR format and convert it to standard image format, with many user-selectable options.
- 1998 version of "gvar", for GOES-8/9/10, with some updates for later satellites and portability to linux platforms.
How to compile?
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998
From: Craig Mayhew
Subject: gvar processing
If your compiler does not have the header file stream.h then it is
probably not designed to compile C++ as we know it. To get a compatible
compiler for the SUN you may need to get the GNU C++ compiler. It is
free to download from:
You will need the files:
These archives should contain instructions for building the compiler.
If you do not have any compiler then you can get a binary file for the
You can get binaries for Solaris 2.4, 2.5, 2.5.1, or 2.6. You can even
get the latest version (2.8.1) which should contain all of the files you
need to build gvar.
The gvar program has had some changes made to work with the GOES-10
satellite which operates in an inverted mode. I have placed the most up
to date source in:
The file gvar.tar.gz contains all required source code. It is exactly
a tar of the gvar directory that you will see there.
Science Systems and Applications, Inc.
Goddard Space Flight Center
- Notes about the changes in GVAR format anticipated for GOES-M/N/O, as of 2001.
- 2006 version of "gvar", for GOES-8/9/10/11/12, ported to linux (Intel) platforms.
- All our versions of "gvar", with 2012 updates for later satellites and portability to more recent linux platforms.
- "Lessons Learned From the GOES Experience" - OTA, 1993, a review of the difficulties with getting GOES-I on-line.
Some examples affecting image quality
Approximately 5% of the Imager's landmark location errors are larger than 4 km (the goal is 1%), with slow drifts and occasional bumps and jumps.
Spacecraft motions were minimized early in 1995.
The larger "bumps" in time-series animations are caused by imperfections in the earth sensor, in navigation software, and in operating procedures.
Pointing quality improved noticeably during May and June 1995, when software and procedures were tuned-up.
There are significant jiggles due to sunglint near midnight (0400 to 0600 UTC) in the earth-sensor.
Software is being used as "shock absorbers" during this jiggle, reducing point errors from 80 km to 8 km.
Image navigation jumps whenever NOAA updates the orbital parameters during one of the four "housekeeping" events (currently at 0300 UTC).
Near equinox (mid September and mid-March), the shadow of the magnetometer on the anti-earth side of the satellite falls on the north-pointing boom in the afternoon of every day, tipping the satellite for less than an hour.
There are two earth sensors which scan an east-west chord back-and-forth at 45N and 45S latitude, centering the satellite between the limbs of the earth.
When the sun or moon intrudes on the limb of the earth, the north or south sensor is ignored ("single chord" mode).
Unfortunately, the single chord mode introduces a north-south tip in the satellite attitude that affects the images just after switching in and out of the single chord mode.
In winter, the Sun shines from below the satellite, and the magnetometer boom casts a shadow onto the north-pointing ballance boom around local noontime.
The boom suddenly cools and snaps, wobbling the spacecraft.
For GOES-EAST, the snap occurs in the winter afternoons around 1915 UTC.
The secondary mirror overheats when the Sun is within 8.5 degrees of the optical axis, leading to a "keep out" zone around the Sun which is the angular diameter of the Earth.
During the spring eclipse season, the total downtime for GOES-8 is at least an hour longer than for GOES-7 to deal with the keep out-zones and the more complex shut-down/wake-up procedures.
GOES-8 Imager calibration has a few percent residuals to be removed by the end of 1995.
Software corrections for the mirror emissivity in the Imager were installed early in May 95, and are successful.
The GOES-8 Sounder corrections for mirror emissivity, originally scheduled for June 95, were postponed until December 95, and then again until March 96.
Contamination-induced decreases in the responsivities of the GOES-8 Sounder's infrared channels have been kept to a minimum by weekly heating of the sounder's vacuum housing.
The heating, which do not interrupt normal operations, are carried out every Thursday between September and April and last for 24 hours.
Despite this, the responsivities did decrease slightly over the long term.
For example, in 1995, channel 9 (9.6 micron) lost approximately 4%.
On January 24-26, 1996, SOCC will carry out a one-time 72-hour heating of the vacuum housing in an attempt to restore the lost responsivity.
Normal sounder operations should not be affected during these 72 hours.
NOAA is smoothing day-to-day infrared calibration coefficients one the Imager to minimize detector-to-detector striping and sun glare effects near midnight.
Detector-to-detector differences vary from scanline-to-scanline, giving highly amplified scenes a faintly striped appearance that is noticeable on cold cloudtops and uniform sea surfaces.
The responsivity in channel 4 of the GOES-9 Imager has been decreasing steadily by approximately 1.9% per month since October 30, 1995, the date the most recent outgassing of the imager was completed.
So far, the responsivity loss has not caused any significant degradation in data quality, so our only action has been to monitor the trend.
If this trend continues, at some point in the next year or so we will have to consider outgassing the instrument again.
This will interrupt the acquisition of data in the infrared channels for at least a day.
In the late 1990's, the GOES-9 Imager developed high-frequency coherent noise in the visible channel, with drifting detector-to-detector correlations.
RF interference at the GVAR broadcast frequency, 1685 MHz, from the first harmonic of cellular telephone tower broadcasts in the 840-850 MHz band.
This is a problem for many GOES receivers in urban areas.
The GOES-8 Imager's visible channel suffers from "salt-and-pepper" noise.
The problem is correlated with the intensity of energetic particles at the satellite.
Radiation-induced spikes are suspected in the sensitive front-end amplifier, which is not as well shielded on GOES-8 as on the following satellites.
The NWS radiosonde broadcasts (1675-1685 MHz) sometimes interfere with the GVAR broadcast frequency at 1685.7 MHz.
This shows up as hour-long flurries of line drops at 0000-0100 UTC and 1200-1300 UTC every day.
If you are having trouble like this, contact:
Dave McGinnis, NESDIS Frequency Manager
Office of Systems Development
National Environmental Satellite, Data. and Information Service/NOAA
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 3301, Federal Building #4
Washington, D.C. 20233
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