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Home / Research / Instruments / GOES-R

GOES-R Satellite

A New Era for Lightning Detection

GOES-R features the first lightning imager designed to operate in geostationary orbit. This staring sensor - known as GLM - will provide continuous lightning observations across the entire western hemisphere until the 2030's and beyond.

The R-series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are the current generation of geostationary weather satellite operated by NOAA. There will be 4 satellites in the R-series (GOES-R, S, T, and U) that will see service through 2036. The GOES satellites provide operational real-time weather data to forecasters from across the western hemisphere. GOES-R (now GOES16) is stationed in the GOES-East position at 75 W, while GOES-S (now GOES17) is stationed in the GOES-West position at 137 W.

The R-series GOES satellites feature four instruments for monitoring the Earth-atmosphere system and geospace environment. The Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) is a telescopic imager that records solar activity in the extreme UV portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. SUVI provides continuous full disk solar imagery that is useful for observing solar flares and solar filament eruptions that can lead to coronal mass ejections. These observations provide early warning for space and ground-based systems that may be disrupted by solar storms. The next GOES-R instrument is the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor (EXIS). While SUVI images the origins of space weather at the sun, EXIS records its impact on the upper atmosphere in support of NOAA's space weather operations.

Moving onto the GOES-R meteorological instrumentation, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) is a scanning imager that provides measurements in 16 spectral bands ranging from 0.47 um to 13.3 um. The visible and infrared imagery provided by ABI extends the historical record from previous-generation GOES satellites and complements geostationary observations from international partners (including Meteosat and Himawari). ABI scans consist of full disk imagery available every 15 minutes, imagery of the continental United States (CONUS) every 5 miutes, and rapid update coverage from 2 commandable mesoscale sectors available every minute. The mesoscale imagery is offset in time, and the update cycle is reduced to 30 s when both mesoscale sectors overlap.

The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is the final instrument on the GOES-R satellites. It is a lightning imager based on NASA's OTD / LIS design, but with improved optics and CCD technologies that permit a consistent spatial resolution of ~8 km across the majority of its Field of View (only increasing to 14 km by its edge). The GLM records lightning discharges illuminating the cloud at 500 frames per second. These spatial and temporal constraints are sufficient to document how individual flashes evolve. Since GLM is a staring imager in geostationary orbit, it observes extremely rare or otherwise unique flashes. GLM flashes that propagate incrementally over several hundred kilometers have been documented along with gigantic jets and even bolides burning up in the Earth's atmosphere.


  • Boggs, L. D., N. Liu, M. Peterson, S. Lazarus, M. Splitt, F. Lucena, A. Nag, H. K. Rassoul, 2019: First observations of gigantic jets from geostationary orbit. Geophys. Res. Lett., 46, 7, 3999-4006.