The monster Hurricane Irma is huge for scientists, who are seeing a new kind of satellite view with unprecedented clarity. Images from space are getting beamed first to a secure facility in Maryland.
“We’re geeking out in a good way,” said Vanessa Griffin, the head of satellite products for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Images from 16 different satellites are processed first at the NOAA facility in Suitland.
The newest satellite, GOES-16, is providing images of Irma with never-before-seen detail. “It’s really a game-changer,” said Griffin, adding that images are taken six times faster than older satellites with four times the detail.
GOES-16 launched in November and is still in a test phase.
During this active storm season, NOAA is publishing GOES-16 images and sending them to the National Weather Service, universities, and international partners to study. The hope is clearer images from space will mean a clearer idea of how mega-storms form.
“It’s all about saving lives,” said Griffin. “This is a real tool, and it’s going to have a real impact.”