NOAA 2001-089
Contact: Pat Viets


The nation's newest environmental satellite sent back its first clear, crisp image of the western hemisphere today, announced the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that operates the satellite known as GOES-12.

"GOES" stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. The GOES–12 was launched on July 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and achieved geostationary orbit on August 12. It is the first of the NOAA satellites equipped with a Solar X-ray Imager, an instrument that can detect solar storms. GOES-12 will be stored in orbit and will replace either GOES-8 or GOES-10 as needed.

The new weather satellite will view cloud patterns, measure temperature and moisture in the atmosphere, and monitor space weather for North and South America and portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The satellite follows the Earth's rotation, maintaining a constant position from 22,300 miles out in space.

"The success of the GOES-12 will ensure the ongoing mission of our nation's environmental satellites, maintaining a constant vigil for the atmospheric "triggers" for severe weather conditions," said Kathy Kelly, director of satellite operations for NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. "The GOES team is really excited about this first image. The fine-scale meteorological features stand out clearly – it's right on the mark."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages satellite design, development and launch, and on-orbit checkout of the NOAA spacecraft.

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites from its Suitland, Md., facility. After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NESDIS assumes responsibility for command and control, data receipt, and product generation and distribution. NESDIS is the nation's primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. NESDIS' environmental satellites are used for weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and other environmental applications such as fire detection, ozone monitoring, and sea surface temperature measurements. To learn more about NESDIS, please visit

The first image is available at: Click Current under Significant Events at the top of the left column.