NASA's latest super-sophisticated storm-sensor, the GOES-O, succeeded before it ever left Earth - detecting thunderstorms before being launched. Technically it "detected" them by being delayed, as wimpy non-Michael-Bay NASA scientists don't believe in firing massive Delta IV rockets through lightning bolts, but now it's in orbit and keeping an electronic eye out for storms - both surface and solar.
The Geostationary Operational Environment Satellites is a network of weather-watchers with the GOES-O being the fourteenth. Construction and launch of the latest satellite cost a cool half-billion (including the half-million kilogram launch vehicle), but the payback is priceless: up to the minute environmental information on Earth.
Much of the data is planet-centric, ranging from almost-live coverage of weather and the formation of storm-systems to wider-ranging scans covering 60% of the planet. Other instruments keep an eye on larger targets, such as solar storm systems which could disrupt communications or affect the environment. GOES is part of mankind's ever-expanding ability to actually see the big picture - all we have to do now is convince everyone to look at it.
Posted by Luke McKinney
Image is GOES-O Delta IV booster erection photo from 2-25-09; Credited to NASA Jim Grossmann
GOES-O is GO http://www.physorg.com/
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