(UPDATE) Today NOAA's GOES-16 satellite sent back its first photos from orbit. The photos can be seen in the video above, as well as attached to this article. The original story and information about the satellite can be found below.

(ORIGINAL STORY) With the launch of an AtlasV rocket yesterday evening in Cape Canaveral, Florida, weather forecasting and observation took a major step toward the future. The satellite, GOES-R, is the first in a series of four satellites to replace America's aging weather observation satellite network.

What Is It?

GOES is an acronym meaning Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system. The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, includes a multitude of instruments built around the country. It will be operated by NESDIS, the National Environmental Satellite, Date, and Information Service, which is a part of NOAA, the government organization which contains the National Weather Service.

The satellite, the latest in the GOES series of systems which has been in operation since 1974, contains the most sophisticated payload of weather and space observation instruments ever launched into space by the United States. This includes the Advanced Baseline Imager, the Hyper spectral Environmental Suite, two Magnetosphere Particle Sensors, a Heavy Ion Sensor, a Solar and Galactic Proton Sensor, the Solar Imaging Suite, which includes a Solar Ultraviolet Imager, the Solar X-Ray Sensor, the Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, and the Magnetometer.

Simply put, without all the fancy names, this satellite will allow meteorologists and scientists to examine weather and space weather conditions at a speed and resolution never before available to them in the past.

What Can It Do?

Stephen Volz, the associate administrator for satellite and information services with NOAA, told CBS “For weather forecasters, GOES-R will be similar to going from a black-and-white TV to super high-definition TV.” He also added “For the American public, that will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasts and warnings. It also will mean more lives saved, and better environmental intelligence for state and local officials and all decision makers.”

One of the features of this new system will be the ability to get a satellite picture of the entire hemisphere every 5 minutes. More locally, we could get images of a hurricane, or an area of severe storms, as rapidly as every 30 seconds. The imager on-board will take pictures five times faster, with four times the resolution of the current set of satellites in use by the U.S.

Additionally the satellites will be able to monitor real time solar and lighting conditions, among other specialized features.

Greg Mandt, NOAA's GOES-R program director, told CBS this ability is like "watching it (weather) with a camera in real time so they (forecasters) can really watch what’s going on, how it’s unfolding and therefore make much more precise warnings of the significant weather events that are coming on."

The next GOES satellite, GOES-S, is scheduled to launch in early 2018, followed by GOES-T in 2020, and GOES-U in 2024. The satellites will be assigned numbers after completing a test phase, starting with GOES-16 for the GOES-R satellite launched on Saturday.

The First Warn 5 team is already taking steps to ensure we will have this new data at our disposal, with the ability to bring it to you on-air, as soon as the ability to do so becomes available.

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