GOES mast

The GOES Program The GOES program grew out of the successful use of geostationary weather satellites with the experimental SMS -1 & -2. Like many weather satellites, GOES was developed and launched by NASA, but once operational GOES was turned over to NOAA for day-to-day administration. The provision of timely global weather information, including advance warning of developing storms, is the primary function of the GOES. GOES imagery is commonly featured on many TV weather reports across the United States and the world. The GOES Program maintains 2 satellites operating in conjunction to provide observational coverage of 60% of the Earth. The GOES satellite system has remained an essential cornerstone of weather observations and forecasting for 25 years.

The GOES satellites carried a Space Environment Monitor (SEM) which investigated solar particle emissions and helped study the effect of solar activity on Earth's telecommunications systems. The SEM detected solar protons, alpha particles, solar electrons, solar X-rays, and magnetic fields.

In addition to observations, the GOES platform (the satellite stationed over the Pacific Ocean) has been used to create and operate PEACESAT (Pan-Pacific Educational and Cultural Experiments by Satellite). PEACESAT provides satellite telecommunications to serve the educational, economic development, medical and cultural needs of many Pacific island nations and territories.

GOES 1978-1987Hurricanes Madeline and Lester
GOES-4 made the first vertical temperature and moisture measurements from synchronous orbit. From these cross-sections, the altitudes and temperatures of clouds were determined and a three-dimensional picture of their distribution was drawn for more accurate weather prediction. Using GOES imagery, meteorologists were able to measure the frame-to-frame movement of selected clouds at different altitudes and to obtain their wind direction and speed in order to better understand atmospheric circulation patterns.

GOES-7 had the added capability of transponding signals at 406 MHz from emergency locator transmitters on ships and planes in distress; this would greatly aid search-and-rescue efforts. GOES-7 was able to participate in an experiment to show the effectiveness of satellites for use in the international Search And Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System (SARSAT). SARSAT became operational with the launch of GOES-8 in 1988.

GOES 1988- Today
The GOES Program continued to improve; new technological innovations and sensors (such as Doppler radar, popular with weather stations across the country) were added. The modern GOES satellite assists with the observation and, when possible, the prediction of fairly local weather events including thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, and even snow squalls.

More recently GOES observations have proven helpful in monitoring dust storms, volcano eruptions, and even the spread of forest fires.

A data collection system was added to GOES, allowing it to receive and relay environmental data. These data could have been collected by widely dispersed surface platforms, such as river and rain gauges, seismometers, tide gauges, buoys, ships and automatic weather stations. Platforms transmit sensor data to the satellite at regular intervals, upon request by the satellite, or in an emergency alarm mode whenever a sensor receives information exceeding a preset level (such as when river water levels rise)

There is a wealth of information on the Web about GOES:

GOES Project Science Webpage

NOAA GOES Imagery and Products

Satellite image of Western Hemisphere Click on the image above for Real-Time images of the Earth!

PEACESAT services include communcation between rural students and universities; exchange of economic information among the Forum Fisheries member agencies; support of regional development activities of the South Pacific Commission; medical, environmental training and emergency communications support.

Photo: Two Hurricanes! Madeline and Lester storm Mexico on October 17, 1998

GOES missions

1968 - 1977 1978 - 1987 1988 - 1997

Earth Science Enterprise


Responsible NASA Official: Sharron Sample
Curator: SAIC Information Services
Date: 4/22/99