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GES DISC DAAC Data Guide: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Platform

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Explanation: The Dataset or Sensor Guide Document you are accessing is no longer actively maintained. The Dataset Guide Documents were created for earlier versions of the NASA EOSDIS system. The content of these documents, particularly with regard to characteristics of the data or technical descriptions of a sensor, is likely still accurate. However, information such as contact names, phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses, software programs, system requirements, and data access procedures may no longer be accurate. We therefore recommend searching for updated information from other sites to insure that reliable and current information is obtained.


The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series of satellites are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GOES provides continuous, dependable, timely and high quality observations of the Earth and its environment. The instruments aboard the satellites measure the emitted and reflected radiation of the Earth from which cloud cover, atmospheric temperature and moisture can be derived.

Each satellite in the GOES series supports two major instruments: an Imager and a Sounder. These instruments resolve visible and infrared data, as well as temperature and moisture profiles of the Earth's atmosphere. The satellite continuously transmits these data to ground terminals where the data are processed and rebroadcast.

NASA launched the first NOAA GOES satellite in 1975. The last GOES launch was in April, 1994.

Table of Contents:

1. Source/Platform or Data Collection Environment Overview:

Source/Platform or Data Collection Environment Long Name, Source/Platform Acronym:

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite - GOES

Source/Platform Introduction:

Collection Environment:


Source/Platform Program Management:

Operating the United State's environmental satellite program is one of the primary responsibilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) operates the satellites and manages the processing and distribution of the satellite data and imagery.

Source/Platform Mission Objectives:

The GOES program provides GOES imagery and data that serves as a continuous and reliable stream of environmental information used to support weather forecasting, severe storm tracking, and meteorological research.

Source/Platform Parameters:

The GOES spacecraft is designed to enable sensors to view the earth and frequently image clouds, monitor the earth's surface temperature and water vapor fields, and sound the atmosphere for its vertical thermal and vapor structures.

Coverage Information:

Satellites from the GOES program circle the Earth in a geostationary orbit in a geosynchronous plane of approximately 35,800 km. The geostationary orbit has a period of 24 hours which allows for continuous observation of the same region on the Earth, primarily the western hemisphere.

Attitude Characteristics:

This information is not available at this time.

Data Collection System:

The satellite acquires and transmits data in real time to one of the ground station subsystems.

Communication Links:

This information is not available at this time.

List of Sensors/Instruments:

Each satellite carries two major instruments. The GOES Imager is a multi-channel instrument which senses radiant and solar-reflected energy from sampled areas. A two-axis mirror scan system allows the multi-element spectral channels to simultaneously sweep east-west and west-east along the north-south path.

The second instrument is the GOES Sounder. The Sounder is a 19-channel discrete-filter radiometer covering the spectral range from the visible channel wavelengths to 15 microns. Atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles, surface and cloud-top temperatures and ozone distribution can be derived from the Sounder data. The Sounder has a flexible scan system and the multi-element detector array assemblies simultaneously sample four seperate fields or atmospheric columns.

2. Ground Segment Information:

Tracking and Control:

The ground system provides spacecraft and instrument health and safety monitoring, commanding, and operations analysis. The ground system also provides orbit predictions, maneuver planning and commanding, and telemetry processing and analysis to support daily and periodic satellite operations. The ground system subsystems are located at NOAA Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC), in Suitland, Maryland, and NOAA Command and Data Acquisition (CDA) station at Wallops, Virginia.

Data Acquisition and Processing:

The ground station also provides Imager and Sounder instrument data processing. For each opeational GOES spacecraft, the ground system digests the raw instrument data stream and generates a processed data stream. That processed stream is then transmitted to the GOES for rebroadcast to the primary weather system users. The Weather Facsimile (WEFAX) Service facilitates the retransmission of images and analyses from the Wallops CDA ground station to the user community.

Latitude Crossing Times:

This information is not applicable to this platform.

3. References:

GOES Data User's Guide, 1984, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington, DC.

Cornillon, P., A Guide to Environmental Satellite Data, University of Rhode Island Marine Technical Report 79, 1982.

4. Glossary of Terms:

See the EOSDIS Glossary for a more general listing of terms related to the Earth Observing System project.

5. List of Acronyms:

See the EOSDIS Acronyms for a more general listing of terms related to the Earth Observing System project.

  • CDA - Command and Data Acquisition

  • GOES - Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

  • NESDIS - National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

  • NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • NWS - National Weather Service

  • SOCC - Satellite Operations Control Center

  • WEFEX - Weather Facsimile

  • URL - Uniform Resource Locator

6. Document Information:

Document Revision Date:Fri May 10 11:52:30 EDT 2002

July 31, 1996

Document Review Date:

July 31, 1996

Document ID:

This information is not available at this time.

Change History

Version 2.0
Version baselined on addition to the GES Controlled Documents List, July 31, 1996.
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Last updated: Dec 28, 2009 04:27 PM ET