Sunday, June 21, 2009

NASA to Launch Improved Weather Satellite

A new enhanced weather satellite is just days away from launch, and once aloft will greatly improve the forecasting of earth's weather, climate changes and how solar energy effects our planets atmosphere.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, or GOES-O, is the second of three meteorological satellites built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and ran by NASA, will feature a high quality imager and two new telescopes for measuring X-ray

According to NASA, GOES-O "will add to the global community of knowledge, embracing many civil and government environmental forecasting organizations that work to benefit people everywhere and help save lives".

Launch of the GOES-O weather satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV is set for this Friday afternoon, June 26. The launch will take place from complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral, AFS, at the opening of a launch window which runs from 6:14 pm to 7:14 pm EDT.

(Watch the Launch LIVE via beginning at 5:30 pm EDT.)

Following a six month on orbit check out of the satellite, the GOES-O will be turned over to NOAA, and the "O" will be replaced by the number 14. GOES-14 will be placed into storage until it is needed.

GOES will have a solar x-ray sensor, or XRS, as one of its many weather measuring instruments. The XRS will be used to detect how strong emitting solar flares are as they move toward earth. Solar flares are constantly shooting off the Sun's surface creating a solar energy which can disrupt communications, GPS signals and satellite transmissions around earth.

Another X-ray telescope is the Solar X-Ray Imager, or SXI. The SXI will look over GOES-O's shoulder and back at the Sun as it detects and images solar activity every minute to give earth based communication station's a heads-up for possible solar interference.

GOES-O will work above the western hemisphere at an altitude of 22,233 miles (35,780 km) up. From this fixed point - called geostationary orbit - the satellite will stay at one fixed point above earth as it moves at the same speed as the planet spins.

Currently, the GOES-N, which launched in May 2006, is not in use and instead is on standby mode over the equator ready to replace either the active GOES-K or GOES-M.

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