NOAA Goes-16 Satellite Sends First Images Of Lightning From Space

Posted: Mar 6 2017, 11:36pm CST | by , Updated: Mar 6 2017, 11:46pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
NOAA Goes-16 Satellite Sends First Images of Lightning from Space
Credits: NOAA/NASA

The real-time data will lead to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings

The spectacular first images of lightning flashes from GOES satellite’s lighting detection instrument have been released and they could be a game changer for weather forecasting across the United States. The new instrument will give forecasters an unprecedented view of lightning strikes and allow them to make better predictions and estimates.

The first operational lightning detector in geostationary orbit, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), is collecting data in ways not possible before. The mapper continually looks for lightning flashes in the Western Hemisphere, allowing researches to observe the phenomena in the smallest scales of time.

Knowing exactly where and when lightning strikes the Earth will help pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy. This more real-time information will eventually improve weather forecasts and flight route planning to avoid hazardous conditions such as hurricanes and thunderstorms and enable emergency managers across America to prepare for, and respond to, weather-related disaster.

“The new mapper also detects in-cloud lightning, which often occurs five to 10 minutes or more before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes. This means more precious time for forecasters to alert those involved in outdoor activities of the developing threat.” NASA researchers said.

GOES-16 satellite is NOAA’s most advanced geostationary weather satellite to date. Launched in November 19, the satellite is currently observing the planet from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles above the surface of the Earth.

The satellite is equipped with six advanced onboard instruments, including Geostationary Lightning Mapper and Advanced Baseline Imager. These are some of the most sophisticated instruments ever flown in space to predict severe weather on Earth.

Advanced Baseline Imager or ABI is the primary instrument on GOES-16, which collects three times more data, provides four times better resolution and more than five times faster coverage than any current weather satellite. Geostationary Lightning Mapper, on the other hand, can measure lightning activity continuously throughout the Americas with the spatial resolution of approximately 10 km, which will be used for more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings.

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