Science & Technology

US launches environmental satellite into orbit

Miami, US, Mar 1 (EFE).- An Atlas V 541 rocket was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday carrying a high-resolution Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T), which will help monitor natural disasters along the West Coast of the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Ocean.

It was operated by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture launch service of American aerospace companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

It is the third satellite in the GOES-R series, which will provide NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s western hemisphere.

Using a state-of-the-art camera, the satellite will measure hurricanes, electrical storms and tornadoes, among other natural hazards, with greater precision and anticipation.

The rocket’s liftoff occurred as scheduled at 4.38 pm from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, a coordinated effort between NASA, in charge of putting it into a geostationary orbit, 22,300 miles (about 35,900 kilometers) from Earth, and NOAA, which will be responsible for managing it once it is operational.

NASA said that the satellite will be placed in a geosynchronous transfer orbit, separated from the launch vehicle and then moved to a higher geostationary orbit and renamed GOES-18.

“The end of my job is the beginning of the on-orbit checkout and operations that will go on for years and years. Once we separate the spacecraft into its correct orbit, we’re done,” GOES-T Mission Manager Rex Engelhardt said, according to a blog of the space agency.

Once in orbit, the satellite will replace GOES-17 in monitoring the US West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean, including Mexico and Central America.

Among the specific benefits of this sophisticated system, NOAA highlights better proven hurricane track and intensity forecasts and increased lead time for thunderstorms and tornadoes.

It will also provide earlier warning of the danger of lightning strikes to the ground, better detection of torrential rain and flash-flood risks.

According to NOAA, this technology will allow improvements in smoke and dust control, in air quality warnings and alerts, and in fire detection and intensity estimation.

Other advances will be in the fields of low cloud/fog detection and transportation safety and aviation route planning.

It will also make more accurate warnings for communications and navigation outages and blackouts, and monitoring of energetic particles responsible for radiation risks.

The design of GOES-T decreases the chance of future cooling system failure due to debris buildup, problems that occurred with other satellites in the series and caused a partial loss of infrared images at certain times.

The GOES-T also carries an improved magnetometer instrument for better performance in measuring magnetic field variations.

These satellites also have instruments that detect and monitor space weather hazards, including solar flares, and also contribute to early warning of outages in power utilities and communication and navigation systems, as well as radiation damage to orbiting satellites.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite’s main instrument is its Advanced Baseline Imager, a camera for tracking Earth’s weather, oceans and the environment that can scan the planet five times faster and with four times the resolution of its predecessors, according to NOAA specialists.

The joint program between NASA and NOAA launched GOES-16 in 2016, followed by GOES-17 in 2018.

A fourth satellite, GOES-U, will be put into orbit in 2024, according to specialized website EFE


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