NASA To Launch Early Warning Weather Satellite

NASA is preparing to launch a weather satellite enabling earlier warnings for severe weather.

The technology was developed at a Lockheed Martin research lab.

When lightning is visible, it’s too late. There is no time to prepare or seek shelter from severe weather. On the other hand, in space, there is lightning in clouds five to thirteen miles high.

The 200-pound satellite is going to capture each bolt on a massive digital camera. Once captured the data will be sent to the ground.

NASA spokesperson Jeff Vander Beukel said, “The camera operates at 500 frames per second and it looks for a certain wavelength of atomic oxygen that’s created by lightning, so it can look and penetrate through clouds and see lightning.”

Lightning at such a high altitude is a good predictor of severe weather on Earth. This could allow meterologist to issue alerts hours in advance.

Researchers have been working on this for ten years. They hope if will acuratly map lightning and help forecasters issue life-saving warnings.

They plan to launch another instrument that will be repsonsible for monitoring solar flares. “Solar flares influence the Earth’s atmosphere and they affect things like radio propagation and they can affect things like power grids on the ground,” Beukel said.

The data from this NASA managed satellite will be available free to forecasters to help people know of fast-changing conditions.

“We’re going to be saving lives by better-predicting weather on the ground and helping people to get to safety when severe weather’s destruction,” Beukel said.

This 200-pound instrument will be joined by five others aboard the GOES-R satellite, which will be launched on November 16 from Cape Canaveral and going up into space 22,000 miles.

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