Satellite signature of the Falcon 9 re-entry

March 26th, 2021 |

GOES-17 Band 7 (3.9 µm) imagery at 03:58:27, 03:59:27 and 04:00:27 on 26 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on 4 March did not achieve orbit and re-entered the atmosphere on 26 March at just before 0400 UTC (Correction:  Falcon 9 achieved orbit.  What did not occur as planned was the 2nd stage de-orbit burn  The low orbit of the 2nd stage allowed it to re-enter on 26 March, and that is what GOES-17 detected.  Thanks to Mark — see his comment bel0w —  for the correction!)  GOES-17’s ABI detected the re-entry heat signature off the coast of Oregon, at the very edge of the Mesoscale Sector 1, at 03:59:27 on 26 March 2021, as shown above in the Band 7 (3.9 µm) images at 03:58:27, 03:59:27 and 04:00:27. The heat signature was also detectable in the Band 6 (2.2 µm) imagery.

Many thanks to Chris Schmidt, CIMSS, for finding this subtle signature in the imagery!  This tweet from Jonathan McDowell includes many ground-based video captures of the re-entry.


The image below, from Tim Schmit (NOAA/STAR), shows the three band 7 (3.9 µm) images, color-enhanced and magnified.  A similar image for band 6 (2.2 µm) is here.

GOES-17 ABI Band 3.9 µm imagery (Mesoscale Sector 1) at 0358 UTC (top), 0359 UTC (middle) and 0400 UTC (bottom) (click to enlarge)

Scott Bachmeier created this 6-channel (Bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 at 0.64 µm, 0.86µm, 1.37 µm, 1.61 µm, 2.25 µm and 3.9 µm, respectively) 3-step animation centered on the re-entry time.

Severe weather across the Deep South and Mid-South

March 25th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with time-matched SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with time-matched SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below) include time-matched plots of SPC Storm Reports that were produced by a number of supercell thunderstorms that developed and moved across the Deep South and Mid-South on 25 March 2021. The highest concentration of tornadoes occurred in Alabama, including one that was responsible for multiple fatalities in Ohatchee around 1842 UTC.

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with time-matched SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with time-matched SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

In a time-matched comparison of Infrared images from Suomi NPP (overpass times) and GOES-16 at 1831 UTC (below)the coldest overshooting top infrared brightness temperature sensed by the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP was -78ºC, compared to -72ºC by the ABI  instrument on GOES-16. Note the small northward parallax displacement that is inherent with GOES-16 imagery over that region. The same color enhancement is applied to both images.

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1921 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1831 UTC [click to enlarge]

Eruption of Mount Etna

March 24th, 2021 |

Meteosat-11 Ash Height images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Ash Height images [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Ash Height retrievals from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (above) showed that an eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy on 24 March 2021 produced an ash cloud which rose to heights of 7-8 km (darker shade of green).

The corresponding Meteosat-11 Ash Loading images are shown below — ash loading appeared to be light to moderate within much of the volcanic cloud.

Meteosat-11 Ash Loading images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Ash Loading images [click to play animation | MP4]

Ash Loading values retrieved using Suomi NPP VIIRS data at at 1200 UTC (below) were notably higher than those from Meteosat-11, given the higher spatial resolution and additional spectral band data available from the VIIRS instrument.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Loading at 1200 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Loading at 1200 UTC [click to enlarge]

A toggle between VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth (below) revealed hues of tan to light brown within the volcanic plume, further supporting the presence of an elevated ash content.

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

Stratus and fog along the US East Coast

March 23rd, 2021 |

GOES-16 Cloud Thickness and

GOES-16 Cloud Thickness and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of Ceiling and Visibility [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) nighttime Cloud Thickness and daytime “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) displayed a narrow band of marine stratus/fog that was moving southward along the East Coast of the US on 23 March 2021. Plots of Ceiling and Visibility showed that some sites along the coasts of New York, New Jersey and Delaware experienced a reduction in visibility to 1/4 mile at times. The Cloud Thickness product (a component of the Fog/Low Stratus suite) indicated that portions of this feature were 350-400 meters (1150-1300 feet) thick.

With ample illumination from the Moon — which was in the Waxing Gibbous phase, at 68% of Full — a NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0600 UTC or 2:00 am EDT (below) showed the stratus/fog feature as it was beginning to moved southward along the DelMarVa coast.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 ) image [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]