The Earth simply looks amazing in images taken by GOES-17, the newly launched weather satellite of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The stunning pictures of Earth from space displayed all the basic features of the atmosphere in such detail that has never been seen before from 22,000 miles above the surface.
How Earth Looks From Space, According To GOES-17
The breathtaking pictures of Earth, which were taken on May 20 but just recently made public, used the Advanced Baseline Imager of the GOES-17 weather satellite. The images were taken using sensors that capture various channels of light.
As noted by Earther's Brian Kahn, the intertropical convergence zone, which is a narrow zone near the planet's equator where clouds converge, can be seen over the Pacific Ocean and northern Brazil. Meanwhile, marine layer clouds are moving into the U.S. West Coast and Baja California, signifying that spring is ending and summer is starting, and deserts in the Chile and the U.S. Southwest remain mostly cloud-free.
NOAA also released three videos that showcased the incredible detail that the GOES-17 satellite is able to capture. The videos feature stratocumulus clouds in the southeastern Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Chile, low-level stratus clouds over the southern coast of California, and smoke plumes from wildfires in central and northern Saskatchewan, Canada.
GOES-17 Satellite Malfunction
The NOAA GOES-17 satellite was able to take the incredibly detailed images of Earth despite suffering a major malfunction with its cooling system.
GOES-17 was just launched on March 1, but NOAA recently revealed that the weather satellite was under investigation due to a cooling problem with the Advanced Baseline Imager. The instrument needs its temperature to be kept at below 60K, which is equivalent to around negative 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooling system, however, is only keeping the satellite at that temperature for 12 hours per day.
Without a properly functioning cooling system, the infrared channel detectors of the Advanced Baseline Imager are unable to fully detect the infrared radiation coming from Earth. GOES-17 needs to detect infrared radiation to identify clouds at night, when sunlight is not reflecting off them.
NOAA and NASA experts are already working to solve the issue, but it could take a few months for the fix to be completed. Meanwhile, the pictures of Earth and footage of lightning flashes show that GOES-17 is still capable of taking stunning images despite the ongoing repairs.
GOES-17 is still in its testing phase and will not become fully operational until late this year.