Looking Closer

The continuing quest to explore Earth’s wonders and to develop its potential

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series (GOES-R)

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series (GOES-R) mission will provide real-time weather forecasts and early warning alerts.  The first GOES-R satellite is scheduled for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in late 2015. 

Throughout recorded history, people have sought to explore the farthest and deepest reaches of Earth in search of discoveries that might yield greater opportunities and understanding.

The drive to explore the planet continues unabated, both on the ground and from space.

Whether it involves satellites monitoring Earth’s weather and climate, space-based instruments gauging solar activity affecting Earth or ground-based technology and activities enabling scientists to understand the planet’s dynamic processes, Lockheed Martin is designing capabilities to help people better understand our planet and to translate that knowledge into progress. 

Speaking of the Future: Scientific Discovery

Observing Earth from space
Lockheed Martin has a long history of developing Earth observation satellites. Dating back to the world’s first weather satellite in 1960, TIROS-1, the company has sent more than 100 satellites into orbit that have monitored the weather, mapped the lands or kept track of our planet’s climate.

For nearly 40 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has operated the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which have monitored weather developments over the United States, southern Canada, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Central and South America from fixed positions over the east and west coasts, approximately 22,300 miles above the Earth

Lockheed Martin is building the next generation of GOES satellites, the R series, or GOES-R. The first one will be delivered in the third quarter of 2015 for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in early 2016.

GOES-R will feature advanced instrument capabilities, including more visible and infrared channels, four times the imaging resolution and new lightning detection technology. Along with building the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin was selected to design a new Solar Ultraviolet Imager, a Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) and a magnetometer.

“GOES-R will significantly reduce the update time of weather developments over the entire Western hemisphere from 30 minutes down to five minutes,” said Tim Gasparrini, Lockheed Martin vice president and GOES-R program manager. “And thanks to the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, National Weather Service forecasters will have earlier indications of storm intensification and greater tornado warning lead times, which can save lives.”

Eyes on the sun
Although satellites monitor the Earth and enable global communications and navigation, solar activity from the sun’s surface can adversely affect electronic assets in Earth orbit and below.

Developed by Lockheed Martin and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., June 26, 2013, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) will provide researchers with key data about activity from hidden layers close to the Sun’s surface. This information will help protect against space weather, such as electromagnetic storms, which might threaten satellite operations. 

Space Fence

Lockheed Martin has been working on a next-generation solution called Space Fence to allow the U.S. Air Force to enhance dramatically its ability to track objects in space. 

Protection against space debris threats
As space has become more populated and society has become more dependent on space-based capabilities, a growing threat has emerged from a proliferating amount of space debris in orbit.

Lockheed Martin has been working on a next-generation solution called Space Fence to allow the U.S. Air Force to enhance dramatically its ability to track objects in space.

Space Fence would employ an advanced, ground-based radar system to provide the Air Force with uncued detection tracking and accurate measurement of space debris, particularly in low-Earth orbit.

“There are more than 500,000 objects currently floating around in space, and every one of them poses a risk to commercial and military satellites and the International Space Station as well as future space launches,” says Steve Bruce, vice president of Advanced Systems, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. “The use of space to help run modern technology, from cell phones and GPS to military assets, is only going to increase. Space Fence will make 1.5 million observations a day, providing better data to understand what’s in orbit, where it is and what could pose a threat so that action can be taken proactively to move things out of harm’s way.”


Lockheed Martin Gradiometers

Earth exploration from the ground, and below
Lockheed Martin is creating new products for natural resource exploration, navigation and underground detection using the world’s only moving-based gravity gradiometer capabilities.

Based on changes in gravity caused by rock density, voids and other naturally-occurring phenomenon, Lockheed Martin’s gravity gradiometers will provide insight that can be used for many purposes, including finding base metals, diamonds and salt deposits.

“Gravity cannot be spoofed,” explains Dan DiFrancesco, senior business development lead for Gravity Systems, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. “Think of it this way: A brick and a piece of wood have very different densities. Even if you put them side by side, they’re not going to have the same gravity signature. We can tell the difference. That’s what gravity gradiometers can do – show us the differences in what’s beneath the earth’s surface by measuring the pull of gravity from the top and the sides, which greatly improves the ability to detect objects.”


Palmer Station personnel, serving as line handlers, untie the research vessel LAURENCE M. GOULD from the station's pier. 
Photo Credit: 
Bob DeValentino, National Science Foundation

Enabling research at an unforgiving location
As the world’s highest, coldest and windiest location, Antarctica presents an imposing place from which to base scientific research. Through the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program, scientists are working to better understand the region and its ecosystems, its effect on global processes such as climate change and to use the area as a platform to study the atmosphere and space.

Lockheed Martin is helping enable that research through an infrastructure and operations support contract.

May 12, 2014

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