Welcome GOES-16!

Monday, 9 December 2019 - 21:40 UTC

Welcome GOES-16!

Sharp eyes might have noticed a very abrupt drop on the solar X-rays graph today. What happened to the Sun? It went into cardiac arrest? Nope. Today, December 9, the NOAA SWPC has switched to GOES-16 as the primary satellite for geostationary space weather observations. What does that mean? Keep on reading!

GOES-16 was launched on 19 November 2016 and is the first of the GOES-R series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GOES-16 has a couple of tools on board which will be of great use for all of us with the upcoming Solar Cycle 25 just around the corner. Well... we hope it is just around the corner but that is a totally different subject.
So what kind of tools are we talking about? First we have the Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) measuring electrons and protons but we won't bore you too much with that. Unless you want to, in that case give us a shout in the comment section.
Next up we have the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) which is an ultraviolet telescope that produces full-disk images of the Sun in the extreme ultraviolet range. Think of the Solar Dynamics Observatory AIA images but of a slightly lower quality and a slightly larger field of view. This larger field of view is really great actually and SUVI will be a tool that we most certainly are going use to determine the eruptive potential of future solar flares. As a matter of fact, it did capture this amazing X-class solar flare back in 2017. Take a look at it in case you missed it. You'll understand why we already love the SUVI instrument:

Last up we have the The Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) which monitor the Sun's X-ray output or should I say it measures how angry the Sun is on a scale from A to X. These new sensors are much more sensitive and accurate that is why we saw the sudden drop on the X-ray charts when the NOAA SWPC switched from GOES 15 to GOES 16 as the primary satellite for geostationary space weather observations. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with the data, the data is just much more accurate especially during quiet solar conditions. More info can be found in this document.

We are not sure what will happen to GOES 13, 14 and 15... in their original post they were talking about putting those satellites in storage but that message has since been removed from the NOAA SWPC website. I assume for the time being that GOES 16 will remain the primary satellite for geostationary space weather observations and GOES 15 will continue its journey as the the secondary satellite for geostationary space weather observations for the time being.

Anyway, welcome to the toolbox GOES-16! We cant wait to use your data when Solar Cycle 25 kicks of! Space weather wise we are at a proper snooze fest at the moment. I thought about writing a few sentences about the current conditions but there is really nothing to write about. Lets hope Solar Cycle 25 kicks of soon. That should say it all.

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