New Weather Satellite Debuts on West Coast

By Andrew Gauthier 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is debuting a new weather satellite today over the west coast.

GOES-15, which was launched into the sky back in May, is replacing the old warhorse GOES-11 in a fixed orbit over the Pacific ocean. Originally slated for a five-year mission, GOES-11 has been serving meteorologists since 2000.

“With its steady eye on dangerous weather conditions, GOES-11 served America well,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.


GOES-15 is positioned midway between Hawaii and the West Coast, some 22,300 miles above the equator. NOAA currently has four geostationary satellites in orbit. The next generation will launch in 2015.

(GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite).

In a recent blog post about GOES-15’s debut, KIRO meteorologist Morgan Palmer writes that the new satellite will offer better visual and infrared images as well as significantly higher resolution imagery of water vapor.

“With GOES-15, our water vapor imagery will go from a resolution of eight kilometers down to four,” Palmer points out.  “That’s a doubling in resolution, and a big deal!”

A cool animation of GOES-15’s water vapor imagery is available here.