CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WFLA) — NOAA’s most sophisticated weather satellite launched into space Tuesday afternoon. GOES-T, now called GOES-18, will orbit the earth 22,000 miles above the equator monitoring the western hemisphere’s weather with advanced technology.

NOAA’s newest series of GOES satellites have revolutionized the way meteorologist see and forecast the weather. High-resolution scans from above come in every 30 seconds. These advances allow us to see rotating thunderstorms and give earlier warning time for developing tornadoes. We can even track small scale, minute changes in both intensities and deviations in movement with hurricanes.

The powerhouse satellite also has a wide range of sensors to detect an array of things, including:

  • Lightning mapper
  • Detailed fog and low clouds tracker
  • Solar flare detection
  • Incoming space radiation
  • Critical ocean observations like water temps
  • Upper level wind speeds
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Monitoring ash and sulfur dioxide
  • Variations in the magnetic field
  • Wildfire detection and intensity estimation
  • Air quality data
  • and much more!

GOES-18 will eventually replace GOES-17 that is currently in orbit, later this year. Unfortunately, GOES-17 experienced a malfunction on one of its cooling instruments shortly after launch just four years ago. The issue was fixed for the rest of the GOES-R series satellites.

It launched Tuesday evening at 4:38 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral and will spend the rest of year adjusting and bringing the sensors online before it replaces GOES-17 entirely. GOES-17 will then be a back-up to GOES-18 early next year.