GOES-R Ground System Conceptual Image - satellite and antenna depiction

NOAA's ground system, built by Harris, is live--communicating with GOES-16 during on-orbit testing.

GOES-R represents a quantum leap in the timeliness, quantity, and accuracy of remotely sensed meteorological data. With a breakthrough space-based sensor capability collecting more data at faster rates, a ground system equally transformational is required to deliver the advancements expected by NOAA and the nation. Harris state-of-the-art enterprise ground system communicates with and controls the GOES-R spacecraft, receives the raw data from the GOES-R instruments, and prepares the data for distribution to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Weather Interactive Processing (AWIPS) system and more than 10,000 direct users to ensure protection of lives and property.

Visit the NOAA/NASA GOES-R site at www.GOES-R.gov

Ground System Overview

The increased volume and speed of information coming from the GOES-16 satellite's instruments requires a whole new way of receiving, processing, and disseminating the environmental data. The GOES-R ground system requires 40 trillion floating point operations per second of processing power to transform the data from the GOES-R's six instruments, which creates terabytes of intelligence every day from the satellite constellation to generate real-time products for distribution. The current geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites combined only generate gigabytes of weather intelligence per day. New antennas transmit and receive signals to and from the satellite and its six instruments and provide the link between the flight and ground systems.  Raw data streams into the processing engine of the ground system after being received by the antenna where the conversion begins seconds later to change this data into environmental intelligence.

Ground System Infrastructure

The GOES-R ground system is installed across three sites in Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. Six 16.4-meter antennas (operational in a Category 2 hurricane), thousands of servers, and hundreds of workstations, and about 100 miles of interconnecting cables were installed to provide near-real-time weather information to the National Weather Service and other users in a highly reliable and secure manner so this critical weather information is available to meteorologists within seconds of receipt as compared to today's timelines which are in minutes.

The ground system is a true enterprise ground solution, where algorithms and computing resources are shared within an open, service-oriented architecture, allowing for easy insertion of other sensor data or algorithms.

NOAA's successful mission rehearsal in 2016 helped to train operators and test the system for launch readiness in November, verifying functionality of:

  • Multi-site ground equipment status and control
  • Satellite telemetry and command using the GOES-R satellite simulator
  • Failover from one ground equipment string or entire site to another
  • State-of-health monitoring of the satellite bus and payload instruments
  • Scheduling of satellite uploads and maneuvers
  • Multi-site ground equipment status and control

NOAA NSOF Facility Mission Control

GOES-R mission rehearsal at NOAA Satellite Operations Facility

Workers bundling data cables in data center

Miles of data cable bundles to connect the ground system

GOES-R Spacecraft Command and Control

Off-the-shelf OS/COMET® product suite is the foundation for the mission management ground software that supports 24x7 operations at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF), Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station (WCDAS), and the Consolidated Backup Facility (CBU). OS/COMET® software enables mission planning, processes satellite telemetry, transmits commands, and runs monitor and control for ground hardware across all three sites.

During launch and early satellite operations, OS/COMET® will communicate with NASA's Integrated Services Network to track, receive telemetry, and send commands to the satellite. Once in geosynchronous orbit, satellite operators at NSOF will contact the satellite using ground antennas. In the event of a significant disruption, the system can failover to CBU or WCDAS for seamless continuation of the mission.

Data Processing and Distribution

The primary purpose of the GOES-R mission is to obtain and provide time-critical information to NOAA’s National Weather Service. The ground station accomplishes this by first processing the data from the raw format, called Level 0 data, to useable information or data products.

Level 1B data products are produced when the ground system reconstructs the data from the raw format to usable information. It is like translating the raw data into information that the computer modeling systems will understand at full resolution by removing instrument calibrations and aligning it to where the environmental information will impact Earth. Further processing and assimilating of the data by adding color corrections and enhancements to highlight conditions of interest, create the Level 2+ products that are even more useful to meteorologists. The ground system will process and distribute, in near-real-time, 34 “baseline” meteorological, solar, and space weather products. This includes important information like dust identification, cloud and moisture imagery, hurricane intensity estimation, and lightening detection.

The ground system will also distribute Level 1B and Level 2+ weather products through the Product Distribution and Access (PDA) system users for weather forecasting. The ground system will feed data products to the Comprehensive Large Array – Data Stewardship System (CLASS) data archive center for scientists and researchers. In addition, these data products will also be distributed to direct readout users with antenna receives by means of spacecraft relay as GOES Rebroadcast (GRB). As the primary user of the GOES-R data, the National Weather Service’s AWIPS system will rely upon the GOES-R ground system to receive key data in seconds or minutes depending upon the distribution path. This information is critical in preparing forecasts and issuing severe weather warnings.

For more information about Harris Corporation's partnership with NOAA and NASA for the GOES-R program, contact us at: weathersolutions@harris.com.


conceptual image - hands holding globe with satellites orbiting it

Satellite command and control provided by Harris' commercial off the shelf program, OS/COMET®

Data servers

GOES-R ground system data storage