GOES-15 replaces GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite

December 6th, 2011

At 15:46 UTC on 06 December 2011, GOES-15 replaced GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite. GOES-11 (launched in 2000, and operational since 2006) was one of the older GOES-I/J/K/L/M series of satellites (GOES-8/9/10/11/12), while GOES-15 (launched in 2010; Post Launch Test) is one of the newer GOES-N/O/P series of satellites (GOES-13/14/15) — so there are some important differences that users of the new GOES-15 imagery should be aware of:

  1. Improved water vapor channel (Imager channel 3)
  2. Slightly different visible channel (Imager chanel 1)
  3. 13.3 µm IR (Imager channel 6) replaces the 12.0 µm  IR (Imager channel 5)
  4. Improved Image Navigation and Registration (INR)
  5. Shorter image outages during Spring and Fall season “eclipse periods”
  6. Less noise on many of the Sounder channels
GOES-11 vs GOES-15 Imager water vapor channel data as the source for GOES-West

GOES-11 vs GOES-15 Imager water vapor channel data as the source for GOES-West

The improvement made to the GOES-15 Imager instrument water vapor channel is likely the most important change that operational users will notice. In the sequence of AWIPS images above, the first 3 images are using the 8-km resolution GOES-11 6.7 µm channel as the source for GOES-West water vapor imagery, while the final 3 images use the 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm channel. Note the change to slightly warmer/drier water vapor brightness temperatures (brighter yellow color enhancement) after the changeover to GOES-15 — this in part due to the fact that the spectral response function of the 4-km resolution water vapor channel on GOES-12 and beyond is much wider than that of the 8-km resolution water vapor channel on GOES-8 through GOES-11. In addition, notice that the north-south “seam” joining the GOES-West and GOES-East water vapor channel images disappears, since the characteristics of the water vapor channels are now identical on those two satellites.

In the sequence of AWIPS images below, the first 2 images are using the GOES-11 Sounder instrument 6.5 µm channel as the source for GOES-West water vapor imagery, while the final 2 images use the GOES-15 Sounder 6.5 µm channel. Note the improvement in noise seen in the Sounder instrument water vapor images after the changeover to GOES-15. Since the 3 GOES Sounder water vapor channels are a component of the GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product imagery, the quality of that product should also improve.

GOES-11 vs GOES-15 Sounder 6.5 µm water vapor channel data as the source for GOES-West

GOES-11 vs GOES-15 Sounder 6.5 µm water vapor channel data as the source for GOES-West

In terms of the visible imagery, a comparison using GOES-11 (the first 3 images) vs GOES-15 (the final set of 3 images) Imager visible channel data is seen below (during a test on 29 November). Immediately obvious is the fact that the GOES-15 visible channel imagery appears “brighter” than the GOES-11 visible channel imagery — this is due to the fact that the performance of the GOES visible detectors degrades over time. The 0.63 µm visible channel on GOES-15 is also slightly different than the 0.65 µm visible channel on GOES-11, as is discussed in the “GOES-13 is now the operational GOES-East satellite” blog post. GOES-15 is similar to GOES-13, since it is part of the GOES-N/O/P series of spacecraft.

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West visible channel images

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West visible channel images

One of the benefits of GOES-15 is improved Image Navigation and Registration (INR), which leads to less image-to-image “wobble” when viewing an animation. The improved GOES-15 INR is quite evident when compared to GOES-11 for this blowing dust case on 27 November (below; click image to play animation).

GOES-11 0.65 µm and GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

GOES-11 0.65 µm and GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

A comparison of the GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel, the 10.7 µm “IR window” channel, and the 13.3 µm “CO2 absorption” IR channel (below) shows that high cloud features will show up with more clarity on the 13.3 µm images — by examining the weighting function of the 13.3 µm IR channel, it can be seen that this CO2 absorption channel samples radiation from a much deeper, much higher altitude than the standard 10.7 µm IR window channel.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel, 10.7 µm IR channel, and 13.3 µm IR channel images

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel, 10.7 µm IR channel, and 13.3 µm IR channel images

The 13.3 µm “CO2 absorption” IR channel is also used for the creation of derived products such as Cloud Top Pressure. An example of a combined GOES-15 (GOES-West) + GOES-13 (GOES-East) Cloud Top Pressure product is shown below (courtesy of Tony Schreiner, CIMSS).

GOES-15 + GOES-13 Cloud Top Pressure product

GOES-15 + GOES-13 Cloud Top Pressure product

An example of the value of having larger batteries onboard the GOES-13/14/15 spacecraft during eclipse periods can be seen below, as Hurricane Ike was making landfall along the Texas coast in September of 2008. During the approximately 3 hour image outage from GOES-12 during the eclipse period (when the satellite was in the Earth’s shadow, and the solar panels could not generate the power necessary to operate the GOES imager and GOES sounder instrument packages), GOES-13 IR images continued to be available — and these GOES-13 images showed a strong spiral band that was in the process of intensifying and moving inland along the far northeastern Texas and far southwestern Louisiana coastlines.

GOES-12 vs GOES-13 IR images (Hurricane Ike making landfall)

GOES-12 vs GOES-13 IR images (Hurricane Ike making landfall)

Additional information can be found on the VISIT training lesson “GOES-15 Becomes GOES-West“.

HISTORICAL NOTE: GOES-15 became GOES-West on the 45th anniversary of the launch of ATS-1 on 06 December 1966. ATS-1 was the first meteorological satellite to provide geostationary images — an example of an early ATS-1 visible image is seen below, and QuickTime movies are available which show animations of some of the early ATS-1 images.

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)

AWIPS test using GOES-15 data

November 29th, 2011
Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West water vapor channel images

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West water vapor channel images

GOES-15 is scheduled to replace GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite on 06 December 2011. On 29 November 2011, a test was conducted by NOAA/NESDIS which briefly substituted GOES-15 data for GOES-11 data as the source of GOES-West satellite imagery in AWIPS. In the sequence of AWIPS images shown above, the first 3 images are using GOES-11, while the final set of 3 images are using GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West Imager water vapor channel data. The changes to the GOES-15 Imager water vapor channel are quite obvious — GOES-15 uses a 4-km resolution channel centered at 6.5 µm that has a wider spectral response, compared to the 8-km resolution 6.7 µm channel with a more narrow spectral response on GOES-11. Even at high latitudes (where the large satellite viewing angle shifts the GOES water vapor weighting function to higher altitudes) the improved GOES-15 water vapor channel imagery will do a better job of depicting the moisture gradients and structure associated with mid-tropospheric dynamical features (Gulf of Alaska example | Nunavut, Canada example).

A similar comparison using GOES-11 (the first 3 images) vs GOES-15 (the final set of 3 images) Imager visible channel data is seen below. Immediately obvious is the fact that the GOES-15 visible channel imagery appears “brighter” than the GOES-11 visible channel imagery — this is due to the fact that the performance of the GOES visible detectors degrades over time (GOES-11 was launched in 2000, and became the operational GOES-West satellite in 2006). The 0.63 µm visible channel on GOES-15 is also slightly different than the 0.65 µm visible channel on GOES-11, as is discussed in the “GOES-13 is now the operational GOES-East satellite” blog post. GOES-15 is similar to GOES-13, since it is part of the GOES-N/O/P series of spacecraft.

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West visible channel images

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West visible channel images

Finally, below is a comparison of GOES Sounder data, using GOES-11 as the source of GOES-West 6.5 µm Sounder water vapor channel data (the first 2 images) vs GOES-15 (the final set of 2 images). Note that the GOES-15 Sounder water vapor channel imagery has less noise than that from GOES-11.

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West Sounder water vapor channel images

Using GOES-11 vs GOES-15 as the source for GOES-West Sounder water vapor channel images

Blowing dust in the Baja California region of Mexico

November 27th, 2011
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

Strong northeasterly winds created large plumes of blowing dust across parts of the Baja California region of Mexico on 27 November 2011. GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation) showed the development of one blowing dust plume originating near the west coast of mainland Mexico, with another more broad plume fanning out from the Baja California peninsula.

GOES-15 will be replacing GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite on 06 December 2011 — and one of the benefits is improved Image Navigation and Registration (INR), which leads to less image-to-image “wobble” when viewing an animation. The improved GOES-15 INR is quite evident when compared to GOES-11 for this blowing dust case (below; click image to play animation).

GOES-11 0.65 µm and GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

GOES-11 0.65 µm and GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

A 250-meter resolution MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below) revealed more complex details about the structure of the blowing dust features.

MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

AWIPS images of GOES-11 0.65 µm visible channel data with an overlay of MADIS 1-hour interval satellite winds (below) indicated that the airborne dust feature was moving southwestward at speeds of 15-20 knots.

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible images + MADIS satellite winds

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible images + MADIS satellite winds

A comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 3.7 µm “shortwave IR” channel, and 11.0 µm “IR window” channel images (below) showed that (1) the thickest portions of the blowing dust plumes appeared several degrees warmer (darker black enhancement) on the shortwave IR channel image, due to reflection of incoming solar radiation off the small airborne dust particles, and (2) swaths of land which had significant amounts of blowing dust overhead exhibited a slightly cooler (lighter gray enhancement) signaure on the IR window channel image, since the dust was reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 3.7 µm "shortwave IR", and 11.0 µm "IR window" images

MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 3.7 µm "shortwave IR", and 11.0 µm "IR window" images

In fact, the corresponding 1-km resolution MODIS Land Surface Temperature (LST) product (below) displayed LST values in the 80s F in areas beneath the blowing dust plumes, in contrast to LST values in the 90s to around 100º F over adjacent areas.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel + MODIS Land Surface Temperature product

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel + MODIS Land Surface Temperature product

CIMSS participation in GOES-R Proving Ground activities includes making a variety of MODIS images and products available for National Weather Service offices to add to their local AWIPS workstations. Currently there are 49 NWS offices receiving MODIS imagery and products from CIMSS.

Blowing dust in west Texas

November 26th, 2011
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images

Strong northerly winds in the wake of a cold frontal passsage caused widespread blowing dust across parts of west Texas during the afternoon hours on 26 November 2011. The hazy plumes of blowing dust could be seen on GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (above). At Midland, Texas (located near the center of the images) the winds gusted to 51 mph, and surface visibility was reduced to 0.5 mile at times.

After sunset, when visible imagery was no longer available, the southward progress of the airborne dust could still be tracked using a GOES-11 IR difference product (below), created by subtracting the 12.0 µm IR brightness temperature from the 10.7 µm IR brightness temperature. The larger IR difference values (around 2-3 degrees Kelvin, yellow color enhancement) represented the portions of the airborne dust cloud that were the most concentrated.

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible images + GOES-11 IR difference product images

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible images + GOES-11 IR difference product images

It is important to note that GOES-11 (GOES-West) is the only remaining operational GOES satellite that still has the 4-km resolution 12.0 µm IR channel on the Imager instrument (a 10-km resolution 12.0 µm channel is still on the Sounder instrument on all GOES satellites) — and GOES-11 will soon be replaced by GOES-15 on 06 December 2011. After that time, using such an IR difference product to track areas of blowing dust will have to be done using polar orbiting satellites (such as POES, MODIS, or NPP) or the GOES Sounder that still have the 12.0 µm IR channel.