Geostationary Satellites

Geostationary Satellites thumbnail


Geostationary satellites are a key tool for scientists to monitor and observe the Earth's atmosphere. They are called geostationary due to their movement. Geostationary satellites orbit around the Earth at the same rate as the Earth rotates so that the satellites are over the same spot on Earth all the time. This allows them to collect a continuous stream of data for one location so that "movies" of the data can be made. The satellites are positioned 22,300 miles above the Earth's surface in order to view the Earth's full disk and to maintain their geostationary orbit. Geostationary satellites travel at about 7000mph in order to maintain their geostationary orbit. Over the United States there are two such satellites, the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) - East and GOES-West. There are many such satellites worldwide.

This dataset demonstrates how GOES satellites work. It shows the position of five geostationary satellites, whose images can be combined to make one global image. Each satellite is shown individually and then the area that they are able to observe is highlighted. The images are combined at the end of the dataset to show the global satellite images that can be created using geostationary satellites. Notice that there are holes in the data at both of the poles. Polar orbiting satellites are used to collect data from the poles. The satellites shown in this dataset are NOAA's GOES-West at 135° West and GOES-East at 75° West, EUMETSAT's Meteosat-9 at 0° and Meteosat-7 at 57° East, and JMA's MTSAT at 140° East.

Notable Features

Geostation Satellites
  • Geostationary satellites are 22,300 miles above the Earth's surface and travel at 7000mph in order to maintain a geostationary orbit
  • NOAA's GOES-West - 135° West
  • NOAA's GOES-East - 75° West
  • EUMETSAT's Meteosat-9 - 0°
  • EUMETSAT's Meteosat-7 - 57° East
  • JMA's MTSAT-1R - 140° East
  • The poles are not covered by geostationary satellites
Geostationary Scanning
  • Takes approximately 26 minutes to scan the entire Earth
  • There are 2700 scan lines in an entire Earth Image

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