A couple of new weather satellites were launched this past fall.
GEOS-R (GEOSTATIONARY OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SATELLITE – R SERIES) launched in November and is the first of a set of four new satellites operated by NOAA and NASA. These satellites will all be placed in geosynchronous orbits. A satellite in a geosynchronous orbit matches the rotation of the earth so the satellite seems to stay in place over a single longitude, though it may drift north to south.
The GOES-R satellite will provide imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere, total lightning data, and space weather monitoring to provide critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar and space data. Once fully deployed, the new generation of GEOS satellites will be able to image the entire continental US every 30 second and collect three times more data and images with four times more resolution.
The GEOS satellites also provide satellite aided tracking for search and rescue operations. The satellites can be used to quickly detect and locate signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, vessels and from handheld personal locator beacons.
GOES-R is undergoing a year long checkout and validation phase. So far the satellite is stable and performing very well.
CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System) launched on Dec 15, 2016 from a Orbital Science Corporation Stargazer aircraft. CYGNSS is a constellation of 8 micro-satellites that will be placed in a low-earth orbit. The more detailed wind speed data from CYGNSS will allow scientists to better see inside tropical storms and hurricanes. The complete constellation will provide nearly gap-free Earth coverage with a median revisit time of three hours over the critical latitude band for tropical cyclone formation and movement: 35° North latitude to 35° South latitude.