NASA successfully launched the first in a series of geostationary weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) yesterday and its a rather important satellite.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) is expected to give forecasters a bevy of new tools to more accurately predict weather patterns and provide weather warnings. Among these tools is a lightning mapper which will allow forecasters to identify particularly dangerous storms. “The launch of GOES-R represents a major step forward in terms of our ability to provide more timely and accurate information that is critical for life-saving weather forecasts and warnings,” said associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen.

The main feature of this satellite is is Advanced Baseline Imager. This will capture images of Earth’s oceans, weather and the environment in infrared, as well as visible spectral bands. This will make it easier for forecasters to issue what could be potentially life-saving weather warnings.

Beyond observing the weather GOES-R will also form part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system. The satellite carries with it a special transponder which is able to detect when a distress signal is being sent from an emergency beacon.

The satellite is only going to reach its planned destination in the next few weeks and will only come online within the next year. NASA plans to launch three more satellites as part of its partnership with NOAA and the system of heavenly bodies is expected to extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through to 2036.

[Source – NASA][Image – NASA]