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GOES Overview

Geostationary satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to stay in a fixed position in the sky, remaining stationary with respect to a point on the ground. GOES satellites continually view the Western Hemisphere from approximately 22,300 miles above Earth.

Since 1975, NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) builds and launches the GOES, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates them. In October 2015, NOAA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the first GOES satellite.

GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and renamed with a number once achieving geostationary orbit. The GOES-N series consists of GOES-13, GOES-14, and GOES-15.

GOES-N Series Data Book >>>
Information about the Current Status >>>

The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-N series include the GOES VARiable (GVAR) and the Low-Rate Information Transmission (LRIT). The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-R series include the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) and the High Rate Information Transmission / Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (HRIT/EMWIN).

GOES-16 and GOES-17 (formerly GOES-R and GOES-S)

The GOES-R series is a four-satellite program consisting of GOES-16 and GOES-17 (GOES-R/S) and GOES-T and GOES-U that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036. Detailed information is available in the GOES-R Series Data Book.

The GOES satellites operate from two primary locations. GOES East at 75.2° W and GOES West at 137.2°W. NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare GOES satellite in the event of an anomaly or failure of GOES East or GOES West.

Current Constellation Status

The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-R Series include the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) and High Rate Information Transmission. Emergency Managers Weather Information. Network (HRIT/EMWIN).

GRB replaces the GOES VARiable (GVAR) service. Although a GRB receive station costs more than a GVAR receive station, the increase is capability is significant. GRB provides 31 Mbps vs. GVAR’s data rate of 2.11 Mbps and includes improved products such as ABI and lightning data from GLM. ABI provides three times more spectral information, four times the spatial resolution, and more than five times faster temporal coverage than the previous system.

Checkout the GOES Image Viewer. Data and images hosted on the STAR webservers, including the GOES Image Viewer are not official NOAA operational products, and are provided only as examples for experimental use by remote sensing researchers, experienced meteorologists, or oceanographers. Although STAR provides "operational" data for some products, the STAR website primarily hosts examples of ongoing experimental product development.

The GRB data stream includes the ABI Level 1b products. ABI has three operational scan modes. In Mode 4, or Continuous full disk mode, the ABI produces a full disk image every 5 minutes. In Mode 3, or Flex Mode, the ABI produces a full disk every 15 minutes, a CONUS image (resolution 3000 km by 5000 km) every 5 minutes, and two mesoscale domains (resolution 1000 km by 1000 km) every minute or one domain every 30 seconds if it is set to that scanning rate. All 16 Bands are available. Mode 6 was recently approved by NESDIS and NWS to provide a full disk image every 10 minutes, CONUS image every five minutes, and images from both mesoscale domains every minute.

ABI operations consist primarily of three types of Earth scenes plus additional scenes necessary for radiometric and geometric calibration. Full disk: Defined as a 17.4 degree diameter circle centered at nadir. It is comprised of 22 west-to-east swaths and is used in Scan Mode 3, 4, and 6 timelines. CONUS (Contiguous U.S.): Defined as a 3000 km (NS) x 5000 km (EW) rectangle. It is comprised of 6 west-to-east swaths and is used in the Scan Mode 3 and 6 timelines. The definition of the CONUS scene is contingent upon the orbital position: GOES-East, GOES-West, or GOES Central. Meso: Defined as a square 1000 x 1000 km area (at the satellite sub-point), which can be located anywhere within the ABI field-of-regard. It is comprised of 2 west-to-east swaths and is used in Scan Mode 3 and 6 timelines. There are two Meso scenes available within ABI that can be adjusted on-the-fly by commanding new center locations. This allows an operator to track hurricanes and other storm events by performing rapid revisits of these “mesoscale” phenomena.

GOES-A GOES-1 October 16, 1975 Decomissioned 1985
GOES-B GOES-2 June 16, 1977 Decomissioned 1993
Reactivated 1995,
Deactivated 2001
GOES-C GOES-3 June 16, 1978 Decomissioned 2016
GOES-D GOES-4 September 9, 1980 Decomissioned 1988
GOES-E GOES-5 May 22, 1981 Decomissioned 1990
GOES-F GOES-6 April 28, 1983 Decomissioned 1992
GOES-G N/A May 3, 1986 Failed Orbit
GOES-H GOES-7 February 26, 1987 Decomissioned 2012
GOES-I GOES-8 April 13, 1994 Decomissioned 2004
GOES-J GOES-9 May 23, 1995 Decomissioned 2007
GOES-K GOES-10 April 25, 1997 Decomissioned 2009
GOES-L GOES-11 May 3, 2000 Decomissioned 2011
GOES-M GOES-12 July 23, 2001 Decomissioned 2013
GOES-N GOES-13 May 24, 2006 On-orbit storage
GOES-O GOES-14 June 27, 2009 On-orbit spare
GOES-P GOES-15 March 4, 2010 In operation as GOES West
GOES-R GOES-16 November 19, 2016 In operation as GOES East
GOES-S GOES-17 March 1, 2018 In operation as GOES East
GOES-T TBD, Launch readiness date
to be determined in early 2019.
GOES-U Launch commitment date 1Q
FY 2025
view every
30 minutes
5 mins (Mode 4),
15 mins (Mode 3),
and 10 mins (Mode 6)
Rapid Scan,
Super Rapid
3000 km X 5000 km
(CONUS: 5 minute)

1000 km X 1000 km
(Mesoscale: 30 seconds)
Polarization None Dual Circular Polarized
Polarization None Dual Circular Polarized
Center Freq
1685.7 MHz
1681.6 MHz
Date Rate 2.11 Mbps 31 Mbps
Earth Coverage
to 50
Earth Coverage
to 5
ABI (16 bands),
None ~2 Mbps
None 0.5 Mbps