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NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)

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The Sun is Earth’s nearest star—a giant orb of hydrogen and helium about 93 million miles away. To many people, it looks like the same constant ball of light day after day as it moves across the sky. However, our Sun actually goes through a cycle of increasing and decreasing activity that lasts for about 11 years.
Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast.
Image credit: SOHO/NASA/ESA As an agency, NOAA’s science isn’t just limited to Earth and its atmosphere. NOAA’s reach goes from the surface of the Sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them. So, what sort of instruments help scientists detect what’s going on in the Sun in the first place?
NOAA is planning an advanced satellite that will improve forecasts and warnings for potentially damaging solar activity while perched in a Sun-facing orbit a million miles from Earth. 
NOAA’s GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) satellites are known for providing critical data to incident meteorologists, emergency managers, and first responders to detect fires, identify their locations, and track them in near-real-time. Now, they’re also helping show the public where active wildfires are located so they can avoid dangerous locations. A new Google feature uses satellite data to guide the mapping of fire boundaries and assist in providing official updates and alerts.
  Image Credit: CIMSS/NOAA   About two hours after Hurricane Laura made landfall Thursday morning, hammering the Louisiana and Texas coasts with 150 mile-per-hour winds and an “unsurvivable” storm surge, the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi-NPP satellite captured this image of the storm. The infrared image shows intense circulation and a clearly defined eye just north of the Gulf coastline and east of the Texas border.  
A new product that alerts pilots to clouds, icy conditions and dangerously cold temperatures is tapping into NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System’s satellites for the critical data it needs.
NOAA satellites provide critical information for forecasting and tracking tropical storms and hurricanes   Image Credit: Steve Sabia GOES-R NOAA/NASA Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early and busy start this year and has been breaking records along the way. On August 6, NOAA issued its updated 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, predicting the possibility of an “extremely active” Atlantic Basin hurricane season. So far, the 2020 season has indeed been an active one, with ten named storms through August 13. In fact, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record. 
A new satellite designed to capture detailed measurements of sea-surface height and other ocean features is scheduled to launch in November 2020. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will help provide enhanced hurricane intensity forecasts and improved information of Earth’s climate.