GOES-16 signatures of a SpaceX rocket launch

December 22nd, 2017 |

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, middle) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with plots of 01 UTC surface observations [click to play animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed signatures of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at 01:27 UTC on 23 December 2017 (5:27 PM Pacific time on 22 December). The arrows on the 01:27:24 UTC images indicate the bright pixels on the 0.64 µm and 1.61 µm images, as well as the warm thermal anomaly (black pixels) on the 3.9 µm image. GOES-16 was scanning that exact location at 01:28:01 UTC.

The GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared signature was noted by a couple of NWS offices:

Signatures of another SpaceX rocket launch in Florida were captured by GOES-16 on 16 March 2017.

GOES-16 visible and thermal signatures of SpaceX EchoStar 23 rocket launch

March 16th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

** The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. **

Visible and thermal signatures of the SpaceX EchoStar 23 rocket launch were seen with GOES-16 imagery on 16 March 2017. The set of 3 images above consists of 5-minute CONUS sector scans at 05:54:33 UTC (about 5 minutes before launch), 05:59:33 UTC (around launch time) and 06:04:33 UTC (about 5 minutes after launch). The 05:59:33 UTC image was actually scanning the NASA Kennedy Space Center (station identifier KXMR)  area at 06:00:38 UTC, just after the 06:00 UTC launch time. A faint bright glow of the rocket booster was seen on the 0.5-km resolution Visible (0.64 µm) image; the 1-km resolution Near-Infrared (1.61 µm) rocket signature was much brighter, because this spectral band senses radiation from both visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum (which of the two was a stronger contributor to the bright signal is difficult to determine); the 2-km resolution Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image displayed a warm (dark black enhancement) “hot spot”, although it was not exceptionally warm (with a 306.8 K maximum brightness temperature).

A “warm signal” was also observed on the three GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor bands: Lower-Level (7.3 µm), Mid-Level (6.9 µm) and Upper-Level (6.2 µm), as shown below. While water vapor is certainly a by-product of rocket booster combustion, it is important to remember that the Water Vapor bands are first and foremost Infrared bands that sense the brightness temperature of a layer of moisture (which can vary in both altitude and depth, depending on the temperature/moisture profile of the atmosphere and/or the satellite viewing angle). In this case, the atmosphere was relatively dry over the region, with little moisture aloft to attenuate the rocket signature — shifting the roughly-corresponding GOES-13 Sounder (had the GOES-13 Sounder instrument been operational)  water vapor weighting functions (available from this site) to lower altitudes. However, moisture considerations aside, the rocket signature seen on the 05:59:33 UTC water vapor imagery was primarily a thermal anomaly.

GOES-16 Lower-Level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, left), Mid-Level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, middle) and Upper-Level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Lower-Level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, left), Mid-Level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, middle) and Upper-Level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

McIDAS-V images of GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.6 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) data at 05:59:33 UTC (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) provided another view of the rocket launch signature.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Satellite signatures of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover launch

July 30th, 2020 |

GOES-16 images from all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 images from all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) images from all 16 of the ABI spectral bands (above) revealed a variety of signatures of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the morning of 30 July 2020. Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images provided the best thermal signature the trail of hot combustion byproducts (water vapor and carbon dioxide) in the wake of the ULA Atlas V rocket booster engines. Closer to the launch site, thermal and reflective signatures of the lower-altitude rocket condensation cloud were seen drifting slowly westward in imagery from all 16 spectral  bands.

SpaceX launch of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission

May 30th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, left) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, left) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

SpaceX launched the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1922 UTC on 30 May 2020. 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Lower-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed the thermal signature of hot combustion byproducts (water vapor and carbon dioxide) in the wake of the Falcon 9 booster engines.

A larger-scale view of GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below) revealed a signature of the Stage 1 rocket re-entry burn farther offshore at 1930 UTC (the 1930 UTC image was from the other GOES-16 Mesoscale Domain Sector, which was positioned farther north).

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, left) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, left) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A thermal signature was also seen in GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared imagery (3.9 µm) imagery (above); a separate Shortwave Infrared animation with a different color enhancement is shown below. Note the initial appearance of a hot pixel over the launch site on the 19:22:50 UTC image, which was scanning that particular location at 19:23:20 UTC (shortly after the 19:22 UTC launch time).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (credit: Tim Schmit, ASPB/CIMSS) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images created using Geo2Grid are shown below — the rocket booster condensation cloud can be seen near the center of the images, beginning as a short linear feature then morphing into a more diffuse C-shaped feature as it drifted slowly eastward over the Atlantic Ocean.

GOES-16 True Color RGGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]