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GOES Overview

Geostationary satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to stay in a fixed position in the sky, remaining stationary with respect to a point on the ground. GOES satellites continually view the Western Hemisphere from approximately 22,300 miles above Earth.

Since 1975, NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity (space weather). They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) builds and launches the GOES, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates them. In October 2015, NOAA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the first GOES satellite.

GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and renamed with a number once achieving geostationary orbit. The GOES-N series consists of GOES-13, GOES-14, and GOES-15.

GOES-N Series Data Book >>>
Information about the Current Status >>>

The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-N series include the GOES VARiable (GVAR) and the Low-Rate Information Transmission (LRIT). The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-R series include the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) and the High Rate Information Transmission / Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (HRIT/EMWIN).

GOES-16 and GOES-17 (formerly GOES-R and GOES-S)

The GOES-R series is a four-satellite program consisting of GOES-16 and GOES-17 (GOES-R/S) and GOES-T and GOES-U that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036. Detailed information is available in the GOES-R Series Data Book.

The GOES satellites operate from two primary locations. GOES East at 75.2° W and GOES West at 137.2°W. NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare GOES satellite in the event of an anomaly or failure of GOES East or GOES West.

Current Constellation Status

GOES Constellation

  • GOES-15 is currently brought out of on-orbit storage twice per year (February and August) to provide supplemental coverage during peak GOES-17 ABI LHP anomaly periods
  • Given recent cooling timeline success, OSPO and NWS are revisiting the need for GOES-15 supplemental operations. Discussion outcome expected in January, 2021
  • GOES-T scheduled for launch Dec 5, 2021 and after post-launch checkout will transition to on-orbit storage

The Direct Broadcast services on the GOES-R Series include the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) and High Rate Information Transmission. Emergency Managers Weather Information. Network (HRIT/EMWIN).

GRB replaces the GOES VARiable (GVAR) service. Although a GRB receive station costs more than a GVAR receive station, the increase is capability is significant. GRB provides 31 Mbps vs. GVAR’s data rate of 2.11 Mbps and includes improved products such as ABI and lightning data from GLM. ABI provides three times more spectral information, four times the spatial resolution, and more than five times faster temporal coverage than the previous system.

Checkout the GOES Image Viewer. Data and images hosted on the STAR webservers, including the GOES Image Viewer are not official NOAA operational products, and are provided only as examples for experimental use by remote sensing researchers, experienced meteorologists, or oceanographers. Although STAR provides "operational" data for some products, the STAR website primarily hosts examples of ongoing experimental product development.

In April 2019, the GOES-16 and GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imagers started operating in a new 10-minute flex mode (mode 6). Ten-minute flex mode is very similar to the old flex mode (mode 3) with one exception: a full disk image is generated every 10 minutes instead of every 15 minutes. Contiguous U.S. (CONUS) for GOES-16/ Pacific U.S. (PACUS) for GOES-17 scans (3000 km by 50000 km) will still be provided every five minutes, in addition to two mesoscale domains (1000 km by 1000 km) every 60 seconds (or one domain every 30 seconds if scanning the same domain).

There are a number of advantages to 10-minute full disk images. It allows NOAA to match the full-disk scanning cadence of our international partners like the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), and the next generation of European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) geostationary satellites (starting in 2021). This allows nearly global advanced imager coverage every 10 minutes.

Ten-minute full disk imagery will also be critical to NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices, National Centers, and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers in monitoring hazardous weather conditions and providing additional information in observationally limited areas like over the oceans or in the mountains. The faster temporal cadence will also improve aviation safety. For example, GOES are paramount in monitoring volcanic activity and associated ash plumes. The improved temporal resolution will help monitor these rapidly changing events and help reduce the risk of an airplane encounter with an ash plume. In addition, GOES ABI data can also monitor regions of potential turbulence and since these features can be highly transient, the 10-minute full disk scanning ability will help with monitoring of this hazard.

The timelines, i.e. the number/type of scans in a 10-minute period, are slightly different between GOES-16 and GOES-17. This is intentional as more calibration and navigation scans are included in the GOES-17 mode 6 timeline to mitigate impacts of operating at higher temperatures.”

GOES-A GOES-1 October 16, 1975 Decomissioned 1985
GOES-B GOES-2 June 16, 1977 Decomissioned 1993
Reactivated 1995,
Deactivated 2001
GOES-C GOES-3 June 16, 1978 Decomissioned 2016
GOES-D GOES-4 September 9, 1980 Decomissioned 1988
GOES-E GOES-5 May 22, 1981 Decomissioned 1990
GOES-F GOES-6 April 28, 1983 Decomissioned 1992
GOES-G N/A May 3, 1986 Failed Orbit
GOES-H GOES-7 February 26, 1987 Decomissioned 2012
GOES-I GOES-8 April 13, 1994 Decomissioned 2004
GOES-J GOES-9 May 23, 1995 Decomissioned 2007
GOES-K GOES-10 April 25, 1997 Decomissioned 2009
GOES-L GOES-11 May 3, 2000 Decomissioned 2011
GOES-M GOES-12 July 23, 2001 Decomissioned 2013
GOES-N GOES-13 May 24, 2006 On-orbit storage
GOES-O GOES-14 June 27, 2009 On-orbit spare
GOES-P GOES-15 March 4, 2010 In operation as GOES West
GOES-R GOES-16 November 19, 2016 In operation as GOES East
GOES-S GOES-17 March 1, 2018 In operation as GOES East
GOES-T TBD, Launch readiness date
to be determined in early 2019.
GOES-U Launch commitment date 1Q
FY 2025
view every
30 minutes
5 mins (Mode 4),
15 mins (Mode 3),
and 10 mins (Mode 6)
Rapid Scan,
Super Rapid
3000 km X 5000 km
(CONUS: 5 minute)

1000 km X 1000 km
(Mesoscale: 30 seconds)
Polarization None Dual Circular Polarized
Polarization None Dual Circular Polarized
Center Freq
1685.7 MHz
1681.6 MHz
Date Rate 2.11 Mbps 31 Mbps
Earth Coverage
to 50
Earth Coverage
to 5
ABI (16 bands),
None ~2 Mbps
None 0.5 Mbps