BEACON TRANSCRIPT – People usually blame meteorologists when they get the forecast wrong, but the truth is that it is quite difficult to get an accurate outlook on the weather. But this will no longer be a problem, since NASA sent a new satellite that on the orbit that promises clearer images of Earth.
Last November, NASA launched the new generation weather satellite called GOES-16. The satellite is on the geostationary orbit and about 22,000 miles away from Earth. Starting with January 15th, it began sending back pictures that are much clearer and can provide more accurate information.
Satellite GOES-16 has spectral channels that are three times better than the previous ones and the images captured by it have a four times the resolution of the former. Thus, the predictions can be five times more efficient. Now scientists can have more information that allows them to validate their climate models and, thus, can provide better forecasts.
Meteorologists explain how the new satellite is better. With only the five spectral channels that the previous satellite had, GOES-13 did not help them differentiate between clouds, fog, ice, smoke, or ash, since they all looked white. But the images from GOES-16 are so much clearer that meteorologists can now analyze the process of cloud formation and see if their climate models are right.
GOES-16 has 16 channels. Two are visible, four are near infrared, and ten are infrared. With them, meteorologists can now successfully distinguish between gas emissions caused by volcanic eruptions and clouds of snow. Also, the higher resolution provides images of an unconceivable clarity. Also, the satellite is much bigger than its predecessors.
If you are still not convinced of how accurate the forecasts can get, find out that GOES-16 can scan the entire Earth surface in 15 minutes, the United States in 5 minutes, and a major weather event (let’s say, a tornado or a hurricane) only in 30 seconds.
Last but not least, scientists will be able to have a better look at the process of climate change. They will be able to watch how the ice melts, how the vegetation changes and what dust storms may develop over the day and over the years.
Although President Trump is not so thrilled to spend so much money on climate research, the project of the GOES-16 satellite may have a chance to receive all the federal money it needs to continue functioning. Moreover, with the prospect of the launching of new satellites into orbit, the climate and weather research will surely improve.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons