Weather forecasts rely on a three-legged foundation. Of course, you need good computer modeling of the atmosphere, and you need talented meteorological scientists to write and interpret them. Without good sensors, however, all that ground-based technology and talent can't accomplish much. And a big part of that sensing capability comes from satellites, especially the sats in geosynchronous orbit, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) line of weather satellites. Each succeeding generation of these spacecraft have been built with better onboard sensors. The result is better images and data for the computers to crunch and the meteorologists to interpret.
The latest GOES spacecraft, GOES-R continues that development. GOES-R has a a 16-channel multispectral imager, better than any other imaging unit put aboard a U.S. satellite, with reportedly four times better spatial resolution and a five time improvement in refresh rate. GOES-R was successfully launched by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V from Kennedy Space Center on November 19. After testing, this latest highly capable member of the GOES tribe will be moved into position over the western U.S. and redesigned GOES 16. The end result will be better weather forecasting, including voyagers.