Mission Overview

NOAA’s latest generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), known as the GOES-R Series, is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites. Geostationary satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to stay in a fixed position in the sky, remaining stationary with respect to a point on the ground. GOES satellites continually view the Western Hemisphere from approximately 22,300 miles above Earth. GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and renamed with a number once they reach geostationary orbit.

The GOES-R Series is a four-satellite program including GOES-R, GOES-S, GOES-T and GOES-U. The GOES-R Series Program is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop, launch and operate the satellites.

The GOES-R Series provides advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment, real-time mapping of total lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.

The GOES-R Series maintains the two-satellite operational system implemented by the previous GOES satellites. However, the locations of the operational GOES-R Series satellites are 75.2⁰ W and 137.2⁰ W, instead of 75⁰ W and 135⁰ W. These shifts eliminate conflicts with other satellite systems. NOAA also maintains an on-orbit spare GOES satellite at 105⁰ W in the event of an anomaly or failure of GOES East or GOES West. The GOES History page of this site provides a look back at the GOES program.

Current GOES Fleet
Current GOES Fleet


  • 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 cloud/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

The GOES-R Series also continues the legacy Geostationary SAR (GEOSAR) function of the SARSAT system onboard NOAA’s GOES satellites which has contributed to the rescue of thousands of individuals in distress. The GOES-R Series SARSAT transponder operates with a lower uplink power than the previous system, enabling GOES-R Series satellites to detect weaker beacon signals.


Click the instrument name to go to the instrument page, expand the image using the magnifying glass or click the image to load a higher resolution image in a new window.

The Advanced Baseline Imager is the primary instrument for imaging Earth’s weather, oceans and environment. ABI views Earth with three times more spectral channels, four times the resolution, and five times faster scanning that previous GOES.

The Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors detect and monitor solar irradiance in the upper atmosphere. EXIS is able to detect solar flares that could interrupt communications and reduce navigational accuracy, affecting satellites, high altitude airlines and power grids on Earth.

The Geostationary Lightning Mapper is the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit. GLM detects the light emitted by lightning at the tops of clouds day and night. The instrument is sensitive to the in-cloud lightning that is most dominant in severe thunderstorms and provides nearly-uniform total lightning coverage over the region of interest.

The Magnetometer provides measurements of the space environment magnetic field that controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere. These particles can be dangerous to spacecraft and human spaceflight.

The Space Environment In-Situ Suite is an array of sensors that monitor proton, electron, and heavy ion fluxes in the magnetosphere. Information provided by SEISS is used for assessing radiation hazards to astronauts and satellites and to warn of high flux events.

The Solar Ultraviolet Imager is a telescope that observes and characterizes complex active regions of the sun, solar flares, and eruptions of solar filaments that may give rise to coronal mass ejections. SUVI data enables improved forecasting of space weather and early warnings of possible impacts to the Earth environment.

GOES-R, now GOES-16, launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket on November 19, 2016 at 6:42 p.m. EST. GOES-16 replaced GOES-13 as NOAA’s operational GOES East satellite on December 18, 2017. From 75.2 degrees west longitude, GOES-16 keeps watch over North and South America and the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the west coast of Africa.


GOES-S, now GOES-17, launched on March 1, 2018, at 5:02 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket. GOES-17 replaced GOES-15 as NOAA’s operational GOES West satellite February 12, 2019, at 137.2 degrees west longitude over the Pacific Ocean.


The GOES-T launch, originally scheduled for 2020, has been delayed due to the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) cooling system anomaly. NOAA is implementing changes to the ABI radiator for GOES-T and GOES-U to reduce the risk of a cooling system anomaly occurring again. GOES-T is now scheduled to launch in December 2021.


GOES-U is scheduled to launch in 2024.