Not good news concerning GOES-17


GOES-17, the future GOES-West satellite, has a major issue, according to a statement issued by NOAA this morning.

AllisonHouse has received this memo from NOAA today about the status of GOES-17:


May 23, 2018

The GOES-R Program is currently addressing a performance issue with the cooling system encountered during commissioning of the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. The cooling system is an integral part of the ABI and did not start up properly during the on-orbit checkout.

A team of experts from NOAA, NASA, the ABI contractor team and industry are investigating the issue and pursuing multiple courses of possible corrective actions. The issue affects the infrared and near-infrared channels on the instrument. The visible channels of the ABI are not impacted.

NOAA’s operational geostationary constellation — GOES-16, operating as GOES-East, GOES-15, operating as GOES-West and GOES-14, operating as the on-orbit spare — is healthy and monitoring weather across the nation each day, so there is no immediate impact from this performance issue.

If efforts to restore the cooling system are unsuccessful, alternative concepts and modes will be considered to maximize the operational utility of the ABI for NOAA’s National Weather Service and other customers. An update will be provided as new information becomes available.

Gilbert’s note: in English, this means that the new, soon-to-be GOES-West, GOES-17 satellite would only provide visible imagery, lightning mapper imagery, magnetic readings from the sun, along with a few other products, and that’s it. Infrared, near-infrared and water vapor imagery would not be produced; therefore, some major effects would include that most imagery during nighttime hours would not be available, along with moisture content in the air, which helps us see where systems are in the atmosphere that can produce weather on Earth. Infrared imagery is very useful around the clock, and is a temperature “map”, if you will, which allows us to view clouds at any time, day or night. The GOES-17 infrared channel of the ABI is sensitive enough to even see fog well at night! Water vapor imagery helps us to see disturbances in the jet stream that can assist in the production of snow in winter, and rain/thunderstorms in the warmer seasons. As a result, not having these capabilities severely reduces the functionality of the satellite. We’ll have updates on this situation once more information becomes available…but clearly, if this issue cannot be corrected, then this will be a major blow to the new satellite, and NOAA’s weather satellite program.

GOES-16: Fire, we do that

Rhea fire

The so-called #Rhea fire in northwestern Oklahoma burns out of control on April 18, 2018. Imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite Image from AllisonHouse Maps.

As I type this, Oklahoma and Kansas have had zero reported tornadoes in March and April (so far) in 2018. That’s utterly remarkable, but in a few days, a severe event in southern Texas may end the tornado drought…with maybe a few brief tornadoes.

But that doesn’t mean that our new GOES-16 satellite isn’t useful, even with an unseasonably cold spring across a good portion of the central and eastern U.S., In fact, the satellite is saving lives, and for a reason you might not expect.

This spring, a severe drought, made much worse by strong, dry southwest winds and very low relative humidity, have brought many dangerous wildfires to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with Oklahoma being the worst hit so far. As you can see by the dark spot in the image above, the #Rhea fire in northwest Oklahoma is staggering in size. Consuming nearly 400,000 acres as I type this (and growing with only minimal containment as of late in the evening of April 18), a very useful tool for wildfire detection has been the GOES-16 blue visible channel (1 KM resolution) and the 3.9 micron shortwave IR (2 KM resolution) channels, with the 2.2 micron channel also being helpful with wildfire detection. Having said that…

The best channel to use to detect and monitor wildfires, in many cases, is the GOES shortwave IR channel (3.9 micron). The imagery, updated every 60 seconds with mesoscale sector rapid scan modes, allows meteorologists to call Forest Service and state Emergency Operation Centers (EOC’s) sometimes even BEFORE the public sees them and reports them in! Obviously, this gives fire departments the ability to get the upper hand on wildfires more quickly, and in some cases, extinguish them before they cause major damage. In fact, over 100 wildfires have been called into the Forest Service and EOC’s by the National Weather Service before anyone else knew about them, thanks to meteorologists and GOES-16 imagery!

It’s now late April, and soon, GOES-17 will be online. A mirror of technology of GOES-16, it will no doubt see western fires with exceptional clarity as well. It’s a great time to be a meteorologist, with enhanced capabilities with our new satellite opening up new doors of understanding to our complex planet., which ultimately will save property and lives from everything from flooding and tornadoes…to wildfires brought on by drought. GOES-16…it’s not just for monitoring clouds!

Wait…you don’t have this imagery? How do you get it? AllisonHouse Maps has it! While some web sites use compressed, lower-resolution imagery, we get the full resolution image feed which lets you see GOES-16 images with unsurpassed clarity. You can zoom in and out as close or as wide as you like to keep everything in perspective…and watch for fires or developing thunderstorms, and more! Subscribe today, and you’ll see it all, from fires to floods, to snow cover and more. The satellite has you covered; now see us to get the data!

GOES-S is now GOES-17!

Today, March 12, 2018, GOES-S was successfully placed in geostationary orbit, 22,300 miles up.  That means it is now officially GOES-17! It also means that the process to “start” the satellite up with system checks can also begin. Again, per my previous blog entry, we should see the first images from the satellite sometime in May.


This is a major event for the satellite. Things can go horribly wrong at lunch, and getting it into orbit. If you get past these two hurdles, then bringing the satellite online is the final step before moving it into its permanent location.