Launch of GOES-S

March 1st, 2018 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), “Blue” Visible (0.47 µm, middle) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, bottom) images, with plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm, bottom) images, with plots of 22 UTC surface reports [click to play animation]

The GOES-S satellite was launched (video) from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 22:02 UTC on 01 March 2018 — and after a period of post-launch testing and evaluation, it will become the operational GOES-West satellite positioned at 137º West longitude. Signatures of the rocket exhaust condensation plume could be seen using 1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (above). The Cirrus imagery was able to unambiguously track the rocket condensation plume for a longer period of time — while much of it continued to drift eastward, a portion of the plume began to drift westward back toward the launch site (this was also seen in the Visible imagery). The condensation plume was not necessarily composed of ice crystals, but the 1.37 µm spectral band is very effective at detecting features that are efficient scatters of light (such as cirrus ice crystals, small liquid cloud droplets, volcanic ash, blowing dust); since the rocket plume was located in the dry air situated above the moist boundary layer (Cocoa Beach soundings) its detection and motion was not masked by the extensive cumulus clouds closer to the surface.

Warm thermal anomalies from the Atlas V rocket boosters were also evident on GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, moving rapidly eastward (below). The cooler signature of the lower-altitude rocket condensation plume was also evident as it slowly drifted offshore just east of the launch site.

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, middle) and Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, middle) and Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

While Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) imagery is useful for detection of thermal anomalies associated with wildfires or volcanic eruptions, in this case the warm rocket booster signature (darker gray to black pixels) was much less distinct (using a conventional “hot spot” enhancement) compared to what was seen on the water vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, middle) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) image [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, middle) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images [click to enlarge]

A multi-panel animation (below) showed that a signature of the rocket plume and/or the thermal anomaly was seen on all 16 bands of the GOES-16 ABI. Note that a 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared thermal signature (black pixels) was first seen on the 22:02:00 UTC image (GOES-16 was actually scanning that point at 22:02:30 UTC, just before the rocket reached Mach 1 velocity) —  prior to the condensation cloud plume becoming apparent beginning at 22:03:00.

Multi-panel images showing all 16 spectral bands of the GOES-16 ABI [click to play animation]

Multi-panel images showing all 16 spectral bands of the GOES-16 ABI [click to play animation]

A 4-panel animation of GOES-16 Water Vapor and Shortwave Infrared images from AWIPS is shown below. With a color enhancement applied to the 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images, the thermal anomaly signature — the long streak of high-altitude superheated air from the rocket boosters — was better highlighted on the 22:05 UTC image (compared to the grayscale McIDAS version seen above).

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) images [click to enlarge]


Below is an animation of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images from AWIPS, providing another view of the rocket condensation plume.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible images, with plots of 22 UTC surface reports [click to enlarge]

 

A new “Rocket Plume” RGB with ABI Data

March 1st, 2018 |

A new RGB has been developed to highlight possible Rocket Plumes from the Advanced Baseline Imagers (ABI) imagery. Many Red-Green-Blue (RGB) composite image recipes can be applied to the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) ABI data. Owing to the new spectral bands, finer spatial resolutions and more applications, there are new RGBs to be considered. Many questions should be considered when you develop an RGB: is there an existing RGB that could be used/modified or does a derived product that highlights the feature of interest. Other factors include: spectral bands, band order, bands differences, band ranges, difference ranges, gamma factor, color contrasts, inverting any ranges, etc. The “rocket plume” RGB uses the 3.9, 6.2 and 0.64 (or 1.6 during the night) micrometer bands. A “quick guide” has been generated to summary this RGB. To simplify any operational use, the “daytime” rocket plume RGB can be used both during the day and night. The main use of this RGB is for a quick-look or situational awareness. While most users will not need to develop their own RGB, understanding the process makes it easier for users of existing RGBs to appreciate what an RGB is and is not. Thanks to Bill Line, there’s AWIPS — Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (xml) code to display this RGB.

Examples (in reverse chronically order)

Test engine burn

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-16 for a test engine burn on March 18, 2021 in Mississippi.

The above case was a core stage test rocket burn near Stennis Space Center for a NASA SLS rocket. This was a “test of only the core stage which burns LH2 and LOX making lots of water vapor, and the test remained on the earth surface, and it made a very large low altitude water vapor, which was detected by the visible bands.” Note these NASA TV image1, image2, image3 for an SLS event (in September of 2020). This March case only had 5 minute ABI data and the location did not get as hot as an actual rocket launch. A still image from 20:41 UTC shows a very slight blue hint, from the ABI high resolution visible band.


SpaceX launch of the Sentinel-6 satellite

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-17 for a SpaceX mission in California in November of 2020.

The SpaceX launch of the Sentinel-6 satellite in November of 2020 from GOES-17. A still image from 17:19 UTC where both the plume and warming can be observed.


SpaceX crewed mission

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-16 for the crewed Dragon mission on November 16, 2020 off the Florida coast.

The signature of the SpaceX launch of the Dragon crew mission was clearly visible in the rocket plume RGB. The corresponding still image at 00:29 UTC clearly shows two launch signatures.


Antares rocket launch from Wallops Flight Facility

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-16 for an Antares rocket launch on November 2, 2019 off Virginia.

Antares rocket launch from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia and the image from 14:02 UTC.


Vandenberg

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-16 for on May 22, 2018 over southern California.

A launch from the Vandenberg on May 22, 2018. Still images at 19:47 and 19:52 UTC.


GOES-S Launch

Rocket Plume RGB from GOES-16 for the GOES-S launch on March 1, 2018.

A CIMSS Satellite Blog post, plus a still image at 22:05 UTC. Note theese meso-scale sectors were a research request.


SpaceX

A GOES-17 example of the Rocket Plume RGB on December 3, 2018 over southern California. Ignore the bad stripe of data in some of the images.

This is a GOES-17 example of a SpaceX launch of Spaceflight SSO-A in late 2018. And a still image from 18:35 UTC.


Credits

NOAA GOES-16 and -17 ABI data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services. These images were made using the geo2grid software, developed at the UW/SSEC. More GOES-16 and -17 imagery and other information, including the SIFT software developed at UW/SSEC to quickly test RGB changes. Thanks also to Todd Beltracchi and T. Garner and S. Bachmeier for their expertise.