A new weather satellite, which improves forecasting quality and timeliness, recently reached a significant milestone when its system module was powered on for the first time. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite–R series (GOES-R) will benefit the US and Western Hemisphere in the areas of public safety, severe weather monitoring, space weather prediction, ecosystems management, commerce, and transportation. The data from the satellite provides accurate, real-time forecasts to NOAA’s National Weather Service as well as other organizations in both the public and private sectors.

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The instrument suite on the GOES-R includes three types of instruments: Earth sensing, solar imaging, and space environment measuring. The Earth-sensing instruments include an Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) that maps the Earth’s weather, climate, and environment. It views the Earth with 16 different spectral bands, thereby providing three times more spectral information and four times the spatial resolution at a rate five times faster than the current GOES system The higher-resolution images allow forecasters to track the development of storms at even earlier stages. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) takes continuous measurements of frequent intra-cloud lightning, which usually correlates with impending tornadoes and severe storms.

Pointing toward the sun are the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) and Extreme Ultra Violet Sensor (EUVS) and X-Ray Irradiance Sensor (EXIS). The SUVI telescope observes the Sun in the extreme ultraviolet-wavelength range, looking specifically at complex, active regions, and solar flares. Those flares have the potential to affect the Earth’s environment and can potentially disrupt communications and navigation systems. The EUVS and EXIS sensors detect solar soft-X-ray irradiance and solar extreme-ultraviolet spectral irradiance in the 5-to-127-nm range, which can also disrupt communications systems.

Using a Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) and Magnetometer (MAG), the GOES-R also can monitor its own space environment.  SEISS uses an array of sensors to monitor the proton, electron, and heavy-ion fluxes of the geosynchronous orbit, gathering information that can help mitigate damage to radio communications during high-flux events. The MAG on the satellite measures the magnetic field surrounding it, which helps to validate the large-scale space environment models used in operations.

Data provided by the instrument suite is relayed through a Unique Payload Services (UPS) suite consisting of the GOES-R Rebroadcast (GRB), Data Collection System (DCS), Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN), and Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT). For its part, GRB provides full-resolution, calibrated, navigated, near-real-time direct broadcast data. That data is based on a dual-pole, circularly polarized, L-band link with 12 MHz bandwidth (which supports up to 31 Mb/s of data per second).

The DCS relay system collects information from Earth-based platforms that gather sensor data according to a predefined set of frequencies and schedules. EMWIN is a direct service that provides users with information directly from the National Weather Service in near-real time, including forecasts, warnings, and graphics. Lastly, the SARSAT System is used to locate mariners, aviators, and the like in emergency situations via a network of satellites and distress signals sent from emergency beacons.

The system module of the A2100-based satellite will be tested to demonstrate the functionality and integration of three major electrical subsystems: command and data handling, communication, and electrical power. Once testing is completed, the system module will be integrated with the propulsion module. The satellite will then move onto payload integration, functional testing, and environmental testing.

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