30-second GOES-18 images of the SpaceX SARah-1 launch

June 18th, 2022 |

GOES-18 Water Vapor, Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-18 images in this blog post are preliminary and non-operational

Overlapping 1-minute Mesoscale Sectors provided 30-second GOES-18 Water Vapor, Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images (above) that revealed thermal signatures of the SpaceX launch of the SARah-1 Mission from Vandenberg Space Force Station in California at 14:19:00 UTC on 18 June 2022.

GOES-18 Water Vapor, Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images at 14:21:55 UTC [click to enlarge]

Signatures of Falcon 9’s Stage 1 booster were seen immediately post-launch (for example, at 14:21:55 UTC, above), as well during its “entry burn” to initiate a launch site landing (at 14:26:25 UTC, below).

GOES-18 Water Vapor, Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images at 14:26:25 UTC [click to enlarge]

Of particular interest was the brief expansion of hot water vapor and CO2 produced by initiation of the Stage 1 “boostback burn” (as seen in Water Vapor and Shortwave Infrared images at 14:22:55 UTC, below).

GOES-18 Water Vapor, Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images at 14:22:55 UTC [click to enlarge]

Plume RGB images (below) provided an integrated view of the rocket booster’s hot/bright thermal signature as well as the expanding cloud of water vapor / CO2.

Plume RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

A schematic of the Stage 1 trajectory is shown below.

Schematic of Falcon 9 Stage 1 booster rocket trajectory [click to enlarge]

Kudos to Todd Beltracci, The Aerospace Corporation, for providing a heads-up on this rocket launch.

Space-X launch of the NASA Crew-4 Mission

April 27th, 2022 |

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) images from all 16 ABI spectral bands (above) displayed thermal signatures of the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket booster as the Crew-4 Mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on 27 April 2022. The low-altitude rocket condensation cloud was also evident, moving slowly eastward away from the launch site.

GOES-16 Plume RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) provided an integrated view that highlighted both the northeast-moving hot thermal signature of the rocket booster, and the low-altitude rocket condensation cloud that drifted eastward.

GOES-16 Plume RGB images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

A toggle between Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images from GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) at 0755 UTC (below) showed a large eastward displacement of the booster rocket’s thermal signature in the GOES-17 image — due to parallax associated with the very large viewing angle from GOES-17.

Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 at 0755 UTC [click to enlarge]

16-panel display of all GOES-16 ABI spectral bands at 0753 UTC, with AWIPS cursor sampling values [click to enlarge]

A 16-panel display of all GOES-16 ABI spectral bands at 0753 UTC which includes AWIPS cursor sampling values (above) indicated that a slight reflectance value (1.75%) was detected for Band 2 (“Red” Visible, 0.64 µm) — but not for Band 1 (“Blue” Visible, 0.47 µm). However, with GOES-17 viewing the rear portion of the northeastward-ascending Falcon 9 rocket booster, a slight reflectance signal (0.13%) was also seen with the 0.47 µm spectral band (below).

16-panel display of all GOES-17 ABI spectral bands at 0753 UTC, with AWIPS cursor sampling values [click to enlarge]

SpaceX launch of the AX-1 Mission

April 8th, 2022 |

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) images from all 16 ABI spectral bands (above) displayed reflectance and/or thermal signatures of the SpaceX AX-1 Mission’s Falcon 9 rocket booster as it was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Center on the morning of 08 April 2022.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images from the CSPP GeoSphere site (below) showed the rocket booster condensation plume as it drifted eastward away from the launch site.

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

Satellite signatures of a SpaceX rocket launch

April 1st, 2022 |

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Split Water Vapor BTD (6.2 – 7.3 µm) and Day Convection RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]  

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Split Water Vapor BTD (6.2 – 7.3 µm) and Day Convection RGB images (above) showed that the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (for the Transporter-4 Mission) on 01 April 2022 created a short-lived shock wave that propagated northward through the clouds just off the Florida coast.

A sequence of GOES-16 images from ABI Infrared spectral bands 07-16 at 16:25:55 UTC (below) displayed the Falcon 9 rocket booster’s thermal signature at that time (when the rocket was well above the clouds, at an altitude around 30 km).

GOES-16 images from ABI Bands 07-16 at 1626 UTC [click to enlarge]

A plot of rawinsonde data (source) from Cocoa Beach, Florida (below) indicated that the entire tropospheric column was nearly saturated, supporting the presence of dense layered cloudiness. There was an isothermal 600-650 hPa layer, which could have enhanced horizontal ducting of these shock waves (although it’s curious as to why the direction of wave propagation was primarily northward in the GOES-16 imagery).

Plot of rawinsonde data from Cocoa Beach, Florida [click to enlarge]

Kudos to Todd Beltracchi (The Aerospace Corporation) for bringing this interesting rocket signature to our attention!