Looking at pictures of our own planet isn’t really a big deal anymore. But witnessing high-definition timelapse of clouds and even wildfires from space? Now that’s something we don’t get to experience every day. Let’s take a look at what NOAA’s newest weather satellite GOES-17 has in store for us.
GOES-17’s videos look like a drone shot them from 22,300 miles above Earth. The photos may be mostly for scientific use, but they could easily pass as an ambitious art project. The new satellite has an Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) which uses 16 spectral bands that include Infrared and Near-Infrared channels. It mainly measures temperatures of clouds, but it also takes incredible time-lapse footage.
However, it’s not all smooth sailing for GOES-17’s ABI. Since the satellite’s launch three months ago, its ABI has had some problems with its cooling system. It can’t use all its Infrared sensors because the heat from the machine could affect the images. But despite its issues, it can still capture breathtaking imagery like this full-disk snapshot of the Earth you see below.
GOES-17 produced the image by combining data from two visible channels as well as Near-Infrared and long-wave infrared bands. The vivid colors these sensors produce gives scientists valuable information in tracking severe weather. Apart from capturing clouds, it can also monitor dust, haze, fog, wind, and even vegetation.
The GOES-17 is the fourth satellite that belongs to the GOES-R series. It will operate with its sister GOES-16 once it’s fully operational. It’s currently in its testing phase and NASA is still calibrating its onboard instruments. NOAA and NASA are trying to solve the cooling problem. If their solutions fail, then they may just have to stick to the limited channels they can use. I wish they’d find a way to fix it because I certainly want more cool photos from space.