WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

New satellite in orbit

Posted June 29, 2009 8:50 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2009 9:44 a.m. EDT

GOES-O Logo (Courtesy: NASA)

In case you missed it, there was some big news in the weather this weekend.  On Saturday, NASA launched the latest in a series of weather satellites, known as GOES-O.  It will make some maneuvers before taking a "geostationary" position some 22,000 miles up above the earth's surface.  Engineers will conduct about six months' worth of tests before the satellite is ready for use.

The total cost of the GOES-O mission, including the launch: about half a billion dollars.

Meteorologists use the satellites to track storm systems, take measurements of temperature and moisture throughout the atmosphere, and a host of other tasks.  Previous GOES birds are also responsible for all of the satellite pictures you see here on WRAL.com as well as on TV.

Interesting fact: GOES-O is part of a global search and rescue system, created to detect emergency signals transmitted from planes, boats, and other emergency beacons.  According to NASA, more than 22,000 people have been rescued worldwide thanks to this system.  That's about one for every mile above the earth GOES-O will orbit.