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Geostationary Satellites

NOAA's GOES-18 Satellite

NOAA’s GOES-18 is the third satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)–R Series, the Western Hemisphere’s most sophisticated weather-observing and environmental-monitoring system. The GOES-R Series provides advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and monitoring of space weather.



Image of GOES-T

GOES-R Series Mission

Image of GOES_R
The fully-integrated GOES-R satellite is shown in a clean room at a Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado.

NOAA’s most sophisticated Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), known as the GOES-R Series, provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.

GOES satellites orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator, at speeds equal to the Earth's rotation. This allows them to maintain their positions over specific geographic regions so they can provide continuous coverage of that area over time.

The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, now known as GOES-16, was launched in 2016 and is currently operational as NOAA’s GOES East satellite. GOES-S, now known as GOES-17, was launched in 2018 and now serves as an on-orbit backup. GOES-T, now GOES-18, launched in 2022 and now serves as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite. GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch. Once a GOES satellite has successfully reached geostationary orbit, it is renamed with a number. GOES-U, the final satellite in the series, is scheduled to launch in 2024.

Together, GOES East and GOES West watch over more than half the globe — from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand and from near the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle. 

The GOES-R Program is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA. NASA builds and launches the satellites for NOAA, which operates them and distributes their data to users worldwide.


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Monitoring Weather on Earth and in Space

Image of Weather from Above
Category 5 Hurricane Iota seen from GOES-16 (GOES East) on November 16, 2020.

The GOES-R Series imager scans the Earth five times faster with four times the resolution and three times the number of channels than previous GOES for more accurate and reliable forecasts and severe weather warnings. The imager provides images of weather patterns, hurricanes and severe storms as frequently as every 30 seconds.

GOES-R Series satellites carry the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit, which measures both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. Developing severe storms often exhibit a significant increase in total lightning activity, and data from the GOES-R Series lightning mapper, has great potential to increase lead time for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

The GOES-R Series also hosts a suite of instruments that improve detection of approaching space weather hazards such as disruption of power utilities and communication and navigation systems and radiation damage to orbiting satellites. The instruments provide advanced imaging of the sun and detection of solar eruptions as well as more accurate monitoring of energetic particles and magnetic field variations associated with space weather.



The GOES-R Series provides critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar and space data, significantly improving detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property, and our nation’s economic health and prosperity:

  • Improved hurricane track and intensity forecasts
  • Increased thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time
  • Earlier warning of lightning ground strike hazards
  • Better detection of heavy rainfall and flash flood risks
  • Better monitoring of smoke and dust
  • Improved air quality warnings and alerts
  • Better fire detection and intensity estimation
  • Improved detection of low clouds and fog
  •  Improved transportation safety and aviation route planning
  • Improved warning for communications and navigation disruptions and power blackouts
  • More accurate monitoring of energetic particles responsible for radiation hazards


Other Resources

Schedules, Transitions, and Operations

GOES Schedules and Scan Sectors
View Schedule
GOES Image Navigation and Registration Statistics
View Statistics
GOES Eclipse Schedule
View Schedule
GOES-R Series Transition to Operations
View Transition
GOES-R Mesoscale Domain Sector Request Form
View Form

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