Tag Archives: satellite

New Weather Satellite Sends First Lightning Images

Since its launch in November and going online a few weeks later, the GOES-16 weather satellite has already sent back a trove of invaluable data to its operator, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And the country’s most advanced weather satellite began Monday transmitting to Earth images and data related to lightning over the Western… Continue reading New Weather Satellite Sends First Lightning Images

NOAA’s satellites are on the chopping block. Here’s why we need them.

Our eyes in the sky are facing budget cuts On Friday, The Washington Post reportedly obtained a memo from within the Trump administration about proposed funding for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The memo outlined steep cuts to several divisions, including the elimination of the $73 million Sea Grant research program, cuts to climate research… Continue reading NOAA’s satellites are on the chopping block. Here’s why we need them.

All eyes on monster Category 4 Hurricane Earl

August 31, 2010 - Hurricane Earl passes to the north of Puerto Rico.  The major hurricane is a threat to the United States from the mid-Atlantic to New England.
August 31, 2010 - Hurricane Earl passes to the north of Puerto Rico. The major hurricane is a threat to the United States from the mid-Atlantic to New England.

Hurricane Earl continues its slow trek toward the west-northwest after pummeling parts of the Caribbean yesterday.  Today it looks like most areas will be spared the worst of the storm but a forecasted turn to the north may put parts of the East Coast at risk. 

The eye of Earl is currently 146 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico and the storm is packing 135 mph winds making it a Category 4 hurricane.  A bit more strengthening is expected over the next 24 hours as the storm continues to encounter warm waters and favorable conditions. 

Of particular concern is the path that Earl may take.  It is expected to gradually turn north and eventually to the northeast.  Within its forecast cone is a vast area stretching from South Carolina to Maine.  With many large population centers within the possibility for landfall, the potential for a major disaster are great.

We are monitoring the storm closely and posting updates to the Natural Disasters Examiner on Examiner.com.  Be sure to check there for the latest.

You can also view our live hurricane tracker here and our tropical weather update page here.

The video below is taken from NOAA satellite imagery and has been processed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS).  It shows the life of Hurricane Earl from sunrise to sunset yesterday.

Latest NASA satellite image shows extensive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico

The growing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and leak will likely take years to recover from.  A new image released by NASA shows the extent of the oil slick as it continues to encroach on shoreline around the Gulf.

NASA satellite image of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico - June 7, 2010

From NASA:

Oil on water has many appearances. In this photo-image, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on June 7, 2010, at least part of the oil slick is pale gray. A large area of oil is southeast of the Mississippi Delta, at the site of the leaking British Petroleum well. Traces of thick oil are also visible farther north.

Not all of the oil that is in the Gulf is visible here. The image shows regions of heavy oil where the oil smoothes the surface and reflects more light than the surrounding water. Lighter concentrations and streamers are not visible. The Deepwater Horizon Unified Response reported oil washing ashore and immediately offshore in eastern Alabama and northwestern Florida on June 7, and this oil is not visible in the image.

Several other features may mask the oil in the image. Pale white haze (possibly smoke from fires in Central America) hangs over the Gulf, partially obscuring the view of the oil slick. The oil slick also blends with sediment washing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River. The sediment plume is tan and green. Because the sediment also reflects more light than clear water, it may be masking the presence of oil in the water. West of the mouth of the Mississippi River, sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water (sunglint) turns the water silvery white. In this region, it is difficult to see sediment and oil, but NOAA maps of the extent of the oil spill on June 7 report oil throughout sunglint region.

The large image provided above is the highest-resolution version of the image available. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides twice-daily images of the Gulf of Mexico.

Massive winter storm as seen by NASA satellite

Old Man Winter has steadily made his presence felt in recent days. California was the first to get struck this past weekend and as the storm moved west, few states have been spared. Widespread high wind events, Arctic cold and snow have marked the storms as they crossed the central United States.

Today the same system that gave us Arctic temperatures in Denver has moved to the east. As it does, Nebraska, Iowa and states along the Great Lakes are feeling its effects.

NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites moved over the western half of the nation and captured amazing imagery showing how widespread the winter weather was.

A severe winter storm blustered its way across the United States on December 7 and 8, 2009. The storm dumped heavy snow from California to the Great Plains, and fierce winds added to the hazardous conditions. The storm was predicted to continue eastward in midweek, and blizzard warnings were in effect for Great Lakes states as of December 9.

This image shows the blanket of snow laid down by the storm across the West, along with the thick swirl of storm clouds over the Great Plains from North Dakota to Oklahoma. The image is made from a combination of images captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on NASA’s Terra (most of the left side of the image) and Aqua (most of the right side) satellites on December 8.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, based on individual images from the MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

Next generation weather satellite to be built in Denver

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver will build the next generation of weather satellites. Image courtesy Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver will build the next generation of weather satellites. Image courtesy Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver to build their next generation of weather and environment monitoring satellites.  When the GOES-R satellites are launched in 2015, they will provide unprecedented capability to NOAA, the National Weather Service and all weather forecasters through the use of advanced technology. 

These extraordinary satellites will provide everything from lightning mapping and improved hurricane forecasting to monitoring of sea surface temperatures.  The press release from NOAA provides some of the details on this exciting endeavor: 

NOAA, NASA Select Contractor to Build GOES-R Series Spacecraft
New Geostationary Satellites Will Give Forecasters Better Information

December 2, 2008

NOAA and NASA officials announced today Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, of Denver, Colo., has been selected to build two spacecraft for NOAA’s next generation geostationary satellite series, GOES-R. There are two options, each providing for one additional satellite. Scheduled for launch in 2015, the new satellites will provide more data in greater detail which is essential to creating accurate weather forecasts.

The contract has a total value of $1.09 billion for the two satellites. A separate contract to build the GOES-R ground system, which receives, processes and distributes data transmitted from the spacecraft, will be announced later in 2009, officials said.

“GOES-R, with its highly advanced instruments and sensors, will provide about 50 times more weather and climate data than is available with NOAA’s current fleet of geostationary satellites,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA Satellite and Information Service. “The American public will see real life-saving benefits from this satellite system with more timely forecasts and warnings for severe weather.”

GOES-R will improve the monitoring of sea surface temperatures and also provide more data to hurricane forecasters by giving sharper images of storms every 30 seconds, instead of every 7.5 minutes as the current satellites provide.

Additionally, GOES-R will carry a first-of-its-kind instrument called the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, which will quickly locate all lightning flashes occurring anytime, anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. The lightning mapper will aid in predicting tornadoes, which often spawn from lightning-packed thunderstorms.

Other key benefits expected from GOES-R include: greater monitoring of surface temperatures in metropolitan areas to improve warnings for heat stress, and better data to bolster the forecasts for unhealthy air quality days. GOES-R will feature advanced solar monitoring instruments for space weather forecasts and warnings of solar storms. These storms endanger billions of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and cause power surges for the satellite-based electronics and communications industry.

George Morrow, director of Flight Project for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. said, “NASA Goddard is excited to be NOAA’s partner in this next generation GOES development and we look forward to delivering an outstanding observatory for their operational use.”

NOAA funds, manages and will operate the GOES-R program. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R spacecraft and instruments for NOAA.

For more information:  NOAA / NASA GOES-R website