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Jan 31, 2017 08:14 AM EST

NASA's Powerful New Weather Satellite Can Help Provide Better Forecasts

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NASA's ICON satellite to study ionosphere, space weather

Last November, NASA launched NOAA's next generation weather satellite into geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles from Earth. It is named GOES-16 and it just sent back more comprehensive pictures which can help provide better weather forecasts.

Wired reported that the GOES-16 has sent back new satellite images last Jan. 15. What's interesting is that, compared to the previous generation's pictures, GOES-16 is able to have three times the spectral channels and captured images at four times the resolution, with five times the efficiency.

This means that more data can be provided to scientists which they can use to validate their weather and climate models. This will lead to better weather forecasts in the near future.

Steve Goodman, senior scientist for the GOES-R program, said that GOES-13 just had five spectral channels. This made clouds, ice, fog, smoke and ash look the same. With GOES-16, now helps scientists figure out cloud evolution processes better.

GOES-16 has 16 channels: two visible, four near-infrared and 10 infrared. It also has heightened resolution which makes it easier for scientists to monitor poisonous sulfur dioxide emissions from volcanic eruptions to melting snowpacks.

GOES-16 can also scan the whole Earth in 15 minutes, with just five minutes to scan the United States and a major weather event such as a hurricane or tornado in half a minute. The satellite is expected to make weather prediction, turbulence forecasts and storm warnings much better.

According to CBS News, this would mean that more lives can be saved using NASA's newest satellite with its greater resolution and higher speed. The satellite can help track storms faster and will also result to a clearer warning about the paths that these storms will take.

This can also improve the study of climate change. Goodman added that the data that the satellite can provide will be able to pave the way for a better understanding on weather and climate.

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