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How to drift a satellite: What happens when NOAA GOES-16 is moved into operational position

30 November 2017

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NOAA GOES-16, the newest and most advanced geostationary weather satellite, will begin moving into its operational orbit on 30 November - just over a year after it was first launched. After a three-week transition period known as "drift", NOAA GOES-16 will replace NOAA GOES-13 as the primary satellite monitoring the skies over the Western Hemisphere. Here is everything you need to know about GOES-16's journey to its new orbital position.

When you hear the term "drift," you may think of a satellite floating aimlessly through space. In reality, drifting a satellite is a highly scripted maneuver. What exactly happens when NOAA GOES-16 starts to drift and why is there a lag time before the satellite becomes fully operational?

Source: NOAA

Image credit: NOAA - These five instruments on GOES-16 will be placed in safe mode during the satellite's drift period.

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