The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has shared the first images from its recently deployed GOES-18 weather satellite.
The stunning captures (below) were obtained by the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument as it orbited around 22,000 miles above Earth.
The ABI observes the Earth through sixteen different channels. Each detects energy at different wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing it to collect data about the Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans. According to NOAA, data from ABI’s channels can be combined to create images known as GeoColor, which resemble what the human eye would see from space. Analyzing the data in different ways allows meteorologists to highlight and examine various features of interest.
“ABI provides high-resolution imagery and atmospheric measurements for short-range forecasts and severe weather warnings,” NOAA explains on its website. “ABI data is also used to detect and monitor environmental hazards such as wildfires, dust storms, volcanic eruptions, turbulence and fog.”
GOES-18 orbits the Earth at a location directly above the equator while moving at the rate our planet spins. This allows NOAA’s new weather satellite to continuously observe the same area of Earth to track weather conditions and hazards as they develop.
GOES-18, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 1, is the third satellite in NOAA’s next-generation GOES-R series, and now operates alongside GOES-16 and GOES-17, which have were deployed in 2016 and 2018, respectively. .
NOAA’s new satellite observes a wide area that includes the West Coast of the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Ocean.
As it continues to calibrate its systems as part of post-launch testing procedures, GOES-18 has already observed storms in East Texas that produced large hail, strong gusts of wind and tornadoes. , as well as wildfires and strong winds that blew dust across New Mexico. Heavy fog in Chile and thunderstorms in Yucatan and Florida were also seen.
NOAA said recently that the launch of its new GOES satellites “has forever changed the world of environmental monitoring and hazard detection in the Western Hemisphere.”