NOAA maintains a two-satellite Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) constellation to watch over the Western Hemisphere. The satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to stay in a fixed position in the sky, remaining stationary with respect to a point on the ground.

GOES-16 serves at as NOAA’s GOES-East satellite, located at 75.2 degrees west longitude. GOES-S, GOES-16’s sister satellite, scheduled for launch in March 2018, will be renamed GOES-17 upon reaching geostationary orbit. GOES-17 will take its place as NOAA’s operational GOES-West satellite in late 2018. In the GOES-West position, GOES-17 will be located at 137 degrees west longitude. Together, GOES-16 and GOES-17 will keep an eye on the Western Hemisphere’s atmosphere, weather patterns and environmental hazards from the west coast of Africa all the way to New Zealand.

This animation depicts the areas of the Earth viewed by GOES-East and GOES-West from their vantage point 22, 236 miles above the equator.

Visualizer: Kel Elkins (lead)

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