GOES-2 Launch Anniversary; GOES Timelines

June 16th, 2022 |

With the help of NASA, private industry and others, NOAA’s GOES-2 (as GOES-B) was launched on June 16, 1977. Similar to SMS-1/2 and GOES-1/3, there were 2 spectral bands: one visible and one longwave infrared.

GOES-2 Visible (left) and Infrared (right) spectral bands from June 16, 1978 over the Eastern portion of the U.S.

A still image with a map overlay is also available to provide geo-referencing for the images in the above animation. Or a similar loop is also available with the map overlay The images in the loop (mp4 | animated gif) were taken just one year after GOES-B was launched.

A timeline of the GOES, from GOES-1 to GOES-U. Figure credit: GOES-R Program Office. (Click to show larger image.)
A timeline of the U.S. geo imaging, from ATS/SMS to GOES-U. Figure credit: GOES-R Program Office. (Click to show larger image.)

The timelines show the periods when the satellites were operational. Yet, there were other times when they might have been operating. For example, when an on-orbit spacecraft comes out of storage once a year, often in August, for a routine check-out of several weeks. Another example was GOES-14, as it provided over 5 months of 1 min data (SRSOR) data to better prepare for the meso-scale sectors on the ABI. These campaigns were in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Some of these times were:

Start DateEnd Date
16-Aug-201231-Oct-2012
13-Aug-201328-Aug-2013
08-May-201425-May-2014
14-Aug-201428-Aug-2014
18-May-201511-Jun-2015
10-Aug-201528-Aug-2015
01-Feb-201625-Feb-2016
18-Apr-201615-May-2016
09-Aug-201629-Aug-2016
01-Aug-201711-Aug-2017
08-Aug-201817-Aug-2018
31-Jul-201913-Aug-2019
11-Aug-202021-Aug-2020
11-Aug-202119-Aug-2021
GOES-14 times (as start/end pairs) of being operated, though not operational. All dates are approximate.

In addition, GOES-15 was operated several times to supplement GOES-17 operations:

Start DateEnd Date
20-May-201809-March-2020
04-Aug-202004-Sep-2020
04-Feb-202119-Feb-2021
02-Aug-202105-Nov-2021
17-Feb-202218-April-2022
GOES-15 times (as start/end pairs) of being operated, though not operational. All dates are approximate.

The second timeline above includes not only the U.S. GOES imagers, but also their precursors: ATS-1, 3 (including the Spin Scan Cloud Cameras) and 6 (with the 2-channel GVHRR; including an infrared band) and SMS-1/2. The GOES-R Program Office also has a more simple GOES timeline.

UW/SSEC has an interactive timeline (opens in new tab) that covers more satellites. The SSEC library (Schwerdtfeger) also has more information on the Spin-Scan Cloud Cameras on ATS-1/3.

Snapshot of the UW/SSEC timeline, the orange line relates to the geostationary orbit. (Click to better show image.)
A GOES-2 Full Disk image from June 16, 1978. The visible band is shown, along with cold IR values. (Click to show larger image.)

The above image shows a color-coded transparency for cold clouds over the gray-scale visible image.

After GOES-U, NOAA is planning on the next generation U.S. geostationary imager as part of the Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) program.

H/T

Thanks to the many who made the GOES (and the precursors) possible. McIDAS-X software was used in generating these satellite images. The data (and many dates) was accessed by the UW/SSEC Data Services. More about GOES-16 and GOES-17 and GOES-18 (preliminary, non-operational).

First Rapid Scan Satellite Imagery of Volcanic Ash Plumes: July 1980 (Mount St. Helens)

July 22nd, 2020 |

 

SMS-2

SMS-2 Visible and infrared (IR) from July 23, 1980. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The main modern Mount St. Helens eruption was May 18, 1980 — yet there were also later paroxysmal eruptions, such as on June 12/13, 1980. Geostationary satellite imagery from NASA’s SMS-2 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite) monitored two more Mount St. Helens eruptions on July 22th (local time), 1980, as shown above. Note that in “UTC-time”, the eruption took place on July 23rd. A similar side-by-side SMS-2 visible and infrared animation.  This may be the first* “rapid scan” imaging of a volcanic ash plume (with a 3-minute cadence for almost an hour), where “rapid scan” is defined as satellite imagery less than 5 min apart.

There is a long history of rapid scan imaging from geostationary imagers, including from SMS-1/2, ATS-1, ATS-3, GOES-1, GOES-7 series, GOES-8 series, GOES-14 , Meteosat, etc and of course, AHI and the GOES-R series ABI where 1-min imagery is routine. Here’s a page where users can search historical meso-scale sector locations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services.  

The monitoring of volcanic ash plumes and their attributes have greatly increased from 1980 to today. Moving from qualitative (somewhat after the fact imagery) to quantitative applications (that are much more timely)! Due to the large number of volcanoes, coupled with the increase in satellite observations, satellite observations are key in monitoring the world’s volcanoes for aviation safety and other uses. More on volcanic ash monitoring.

SMS-2

A similar loop as above (SMS-2 Visible and IR from July 23, 1980), but the in mp4 format. Both the day before and after, SMS-02 was in a routine scan mode of imagery every 30 minutes. The rapid scan imagery was just on July 23, 1980 for approximately one hour, starting at 00:14 UTC. 

This webpage allows to customize the loop speed of the SMS visible and infrared side-by-side animation. This uses the hanis software. 

SMS-2 Visible from July 23, 1980

SMS-2 Visible from July 23, 1980 covering approximately one hour. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The shadows from the plume are evident. 

A longer duration (4-hr) SMS-02 IR animation (mp4) or (animated gif). The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  Note the less than ideal image navigation. 

GOES-3

NOAA’s GOES-3 was also operating, although not in a rapid scan mode, so imagery was every 30 minutes. 

GOES-3 IR July 1980.

GOES-3 IR July 23, 1980 over 4 hours. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The two pulses are clearly evident. 

H/T

Thanks to Jean Phillips, the SSEC Data Services, and the Scott’s (Bachmeier and Lindstrom). NASA SMS-2 and NOAA GOES-3 data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services. More GOES-R series information

* There may have been rapid scan satellite observations of volcanic ash plumes prior to this case in 1980, and if you know of any, please contact T. Schmit.

UW/Madison CIMSS at 40

July 14th, 2020 |

CIMSS (Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies) is now 40 years old, as it was established in 1980. From “about CIMSS: “… is a Cooperative Institute formed through a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1980. CIMSS operates as an institute within the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC)”.

A GOES-3 visible loop from July 14, 1980. Displayed with McIDAS-X software. [Click image to play animation]

The CIMSS mission includes three goals:

  • Foster collaborative research among NOAA, NASA, and the University in those aspects of atmospheric and earth system sciences that exploit the use of satellite technology;
  • Serve as a center at which scientists and engineers working on problems of mutual interest can focus on satellite-related research in atmospheric and earth system science;
  • Stimulate the training of scientists and engineers in the disciplines involved in atmospheric and earth science.
A visible loop from July 14, 1980 from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite. [Click image to play animation]
An infrared loop from July 14, 1980 from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite. [Click image to play animation]
A visible full disk image from July 14, 1980 at 1730 UTC from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite.

The same image, but full resolution (11 MB).

Then and Now

Two full disk images, separated by 40 years.

The above image pair compare a NASA SMS from 1980 to an GOES-16 ABI true color composite from 2020. Both images are from July 14th. The GOES-16 data was generated using Geo2Grid software.

The data are via SSEC Data Services.

Mount St. Helens: June 1980

June 12th, 2020 |

SMS-2

Vis and IR

Visible and Infrared NASA SMS-2 animation on June 13, 1980 between 02:30 and 07:00 UTC. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens, and the arrows highlight the plumes of the two separate eruptions.  [Click to play mp4]

The main Mount St. Helens eruption was May 18, 1980 — yet there were also later paroxysmal eruptions. Imagery from NASA’s SMS-2 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite) monitored two more Mount St. Helens eruptions on June 12th (local time), 1980, as shown above. Note that in “UTC-time”, the eruption took place on June 13th. A similar side-by-side SMS-2 visible and infrared animation (without the arrows) is available here (in addition to one without the red location box).

SMS-2 Visible image

NASA SMS-2 visible animation from June 13th (02:00 to 04:00 UTC), 1980. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens. [Click to play mp4]

A visible band animation without the red square at the location of Mount St. Helens is shown above. The second plume coated Portland (OR) with ash. For more on this case, see Wikipedia and the USGS. Here’s the same loop and image, but without the red location box.

The volcanic ash plume was also evident in the infrared window band, below, but the imagery has fairly coarse spatial (and temporal) resolution compared to today’s GOES-R series ABI (which allows much improved volcanic cloud monitoring). This longer IR loop shows the 2nd plume as well.

IR image

NASA SMS-2 infrared animation from June 13th (02:45 to 04:00 UTC), 1980. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens. [Click to play mp4]

Swipe between SMS-2 Visible and Infrared bands. Red square notes Mount St. Helens location.

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Fade between a SMS-2 Visible and Infrared band.

Note that there is a geolocation offset between the two spectral bands. The satellite times listed are the image scan start times.

GOES-3

The experimental SMS series followed the ATS series, and was a precursor to the operational GOES.

GOES -3 also observed both volcanic ash plumes.

GOES-3 IR

GOES-3 Infrared animation from June 13, 1980. [Click to play mp4]

A slightly longer GOES-3 infrared animation is available here. NASA SMS-2 and NOAA GOES-3 data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services.