Lightning from Space: GLM Status Update with Lockheed Martin engineers Sam Edgington, Clem Tillier, Tewa Kpulun
For decades, NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) spacecraft have delivered reliable weather forecasts, helping people work and travel under stormy skies with confidence. Data from the GOES satellites provide short-term advance weather warning products to the commercial, educational, and public sectors to protect lives, property and the environment, and to foster economic growth and promote educational research.
The next-generation of these geostationary satellites called GOES-R will not only improve weather forecasting quality and timeliness but a suite of six state of the art instruments will monitor weather in space. Data collected from the GOES-R family of satellites will generate significant economic benefits to the nation in the areas of climate monitoring, ecosystems management, commerce and transportation.
Lockheed Martin designed and is building all four of the nation’s new GOES-R Series weather satellites (R, S, T and U). The first, GOES-R, was launched Nov. 19, 2016. Now in geostationary orbit, NOAA has re-named it to GOES-16. The second, GOES-S, was launched March 1, 2018.
The GOES-R satellites are based on Lockheed Martin’s famed A2100 bus which has seen hundreds of years of combined on-orbit operations. The 6,280-pound (2,850-kg), three-axis stabilized spacecraft was designed for an on-orbit life of 15 years. Stability of the satellite and its sensors was critical in the design of the system.
Lockheed Martin has a more than 50-year history of designing and building weather and environmental spacecraft and instruments dating back to TIROS 1 in 1960, the world’s first weather satellite. The company has built and launched just over 100 weather and environmental spacecraft for our government’s civil and military agencies.
The GOES-R series satellites will each carry six instruments that fit into three classifications: Earth-pointing, solar-pointing and in-situ (near environment). Lockheed Martin is building two of the instruments for each the satellites; the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), and managing the procurment of the magnetometer.
SUVI will observe the sun in extreme ultraviolet wavelength range, providing full-disk solar images with increased resolution, sensitivity and dynamic range over current capabilities.
GLM is an innovative instrument that maps lightning across the U.S. in real time. It will take hundreds of images every second in near-infrared, mapping both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. Research shows that increased lightning rates can be a predictor of looming severe weather, and GLM could increase lead times for severe storm and tornado warnings.
The magnetometer measures the space environment magnetic field that controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the Earth’s magnetosphere. These solar charged particles can be dangerous to spacecraft and human spaceflight.