This image, taken with the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument onboard NOAA’s GOES-18 weather satellite, shows the western hemisphere of Earth. Image credit: NOAA.
GOES-T launched on March 1, 2022, at 4:38 p.m. EST, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The satellite launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41.
The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center.
GOES-T separated from the Atlas V Centaur upper stage at 8:11 p.m. EST on March 1.
Mission managers confirmed that its solar arrays successfully deployed at 8:28 p.m. EST and the satellite was operating on its own power.
“We at NASA feel honored to continue to work with NOAA on this strategic and successful partnership,” Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said after the launch.
“Besides our work on spacecraft development and launch, NASA supported science teams are looking forward to analyzing the precious data that GOES-T will provide.”
“These observations are a key part of our research towards improving understanding and models of climate, weather, and space weather — models that, in turn, support NOAA’s crucial work as they lead the weather and space weather forecasts for the nation.”
On March 14, GOES-T executed its final engine burn, placing the satellite in geostationary orbit 35,785 km (22,236 miles) above Earth.
Upon reaching this milestone, GOES-T was renamed GOES-18.
“GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and a number once they achieve geostationary orbit,” NOAA researchers said.
On May 11, they shared the stunning image of Earth’s western hemisphere captured by GOES-18’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument.
“The ABI views Earth with 16 different channels, each measuring energy at different wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum to obtain information about Earth’s atmosphere, land, and ocean,” the scientists explained.
GOES-18 is currently undergoing post-launch testing, validation and calibration of its instruments and systems to prepare it for operations.
The ABI cooling system is performing well, with no signs of the issue that affects its sister satellite, GOES-17.
The ABI was redesigned for GOES-18 to reduce the likelihood of future cooling system anomalies.
The new design uses a simpler hardware configuration that eliminates the filters that are susceptible to debris.
GOES-18 will assist GOES-17 with GOES West operations in summer 2022 and again in early fall.
NOAA plans for GOES-18 to replace GOES-17 as GOES West in early 2023.
Imagery from GOES-18 during the post-launch testing phase should be considered preliminary and non-operational.