Satellite signatures of the SpaceX/NASA Crew-3 launch

November 10th, 2021 |

GOES-16 ABI spectral bands 1-16 [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

On 10 November 2021, SpaceX and NASA launched the Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:03 pm EDT (0203 UTC on 11 November). GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Domain Sector 1 provided images at 1-minute intervals (above) — reflectance and/or thermal signatures of the Falcon-9 rocket booster were seen in 15 of the 16 ABI spectral bands during the initial portion of its northeastward trajectory. The hottest Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) brightness temperature was 70.63ºC at 0205 UTC (which was around the time of Second Stage ignition).

A zoomed-in comparison of GOES-16 Visible and Near-Infrared images at 0204 UTC (below) provided a better view of the signatures just off the coast of Florida — an AWIPS cursor sampling indicated that there was even a 0.13% reflectance signal in the 0.47 µm “Blue” Visible image (but this value was not bright enough to be seen using the default enhancement). 

Comparison of GOES-16 Visible and Near-Infrared images at 0204 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Plume RGB images (below) highlighted a bright thermal signature of the Falcon-9 rocket booster ascent, as well as the darker signature of low-altitude condensation clouds (resulting from the rocket launch) which moved slowly eastward.

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

A toggle between Plume RGB images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 at 0205 UTC (below) revealed a significant eastward parallax displacement of the yellow/orange thermal anomaly signature on the GOES-17 image. At that time, the rocket was at an altitude of about 70 km.

Plume RGB images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 at 0205 UTC (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS) [click to enlarge]

Cyclonic Development in the Indian Ocean

November 10th, 2021 |

A tropical cyclone has developed in the Bay of Bengal and is moving northwest across the Indian subcontinent. The system is forecast to continue bringing heavy rains to Southern India until Thursday. It has already caused damage, flooding, and loss of life in Sri Lanka and India.

Animations showing water vapor data from the Himawari-8 satellite’s Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) can be found below. The first animation highlights cyclonic structure developing over the past two days every hour. In the final frame, a distinct eye is visible. Similar to the ABI aboard GOES-16/17, AHI collects data every ten minutes. The second animation shows the ten-minute temporal resolution of AHI for a shorter time period, zooming to see the ‘eye’ of the storm.

An hourly animation spanning 48 hours visualizing cyclone development using AHI Band 9 data in RealEarth, from 11/8/2021 20:57 UTC to 11/10/2021 20:57 UTC.
A zoomed-in view using the ten-minute data from AHI Band 9 data in RealEarth, on 11/10/2021 from 13:50 UTC to 22:10 UTC.

These animations were made using RealEarth, a free data discovery and visualization platform developed at SSEC/CIMSS at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is available to anyone at

RealEarth also contains CMORPH estimates (hourly, daily and weekly) of precipitation. The daily precipitation from 10 November over the Bay of Bengal is shown below. The highest value in the colorbar is 150 mm — but in reality, the heaviest accumulations over the Bay of Bengal exceeded 300 mm!

Accumulated precipitation, estimated from CMORPH, for the 24 hours ending 2359 UTC on 10 November 2021 (Click to enlarge)