CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NOAA’s powerful new weather satellite is already helping forecasters predict potentially dangerous lightning —before it leaves the cloud.
High-resolution satellite GOES-16 launched from Cape Canaveral in November and is now watching weather on Earth from 22,300 miles above the surface.
NASA released video and pictures Monday taken by GOES-16 using its Geostationary Lightning Mapper instrument showing lightning over southeast Texas recorded on Feb. 14.
The satellite captured 1.8 million images (combined below) in one hour of a storm system on Earth. The brighter colors indicate more lightning energy, according to NOAA. On Feb. 14, the most frequent lightning was recorded just south of Houston.
Combining the forces of two GOES-16 instruments, the Advanced Baseline Imager, or ABI, for cloud imaging and the never-before used lightning mapper -- forecasters will be able alert people of developing threats.
The mapper detects in-cloud lightning, which happens five to 10 minutes before it could strike the ground while the ABI provides data and images in real time, as frequently as every 30 seconds.
GOES-16 is the first of four satellites, part of a $10 billion program, to help improve weather forecasting of incoming weather hazards. These satellites will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s western hemisphere, lightning data and space weather.
Watch the video of lightning before it strikes above.