NASA GOES-R
An artist's impression of the NASA GOES-R weather satelliteNASA

NASA is about to seriously upgrade global weather prediction skills on Saturday.

The agency will launch the GOES-R satellite from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V 541 rocket. It's the first of three satellites being built to replace the ageing United States weather satellite system.

Once the satellite reaches orbit, it will change names from GOES-R to GOES-16 and become the 16th geostationary weather satellite in US history, CNN reported.

"This spacecraft will impact 300 million people a day," said Tim Gasparrini, the GOES-R project manager and employee of Lockheed Martin, which assembled the satellite. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are leading the effort.

"It's like going from a black-and-white TV to high definition," Laura K Furgione, deputy director of the National Weather Service, told CBS Minnesota.

"It's three times as many channels, or spectral bands, and so that gives us 15 channels to look at, from visible imagery to infrared imagery," Furgione said.

NOAA's current fleet of three GOES satellites are all outfitted with 1990s technology.

The launch of GOES-R — and three other similar satellites — will bring the US fleet back up to the state-of-the-art, and extend the life of the GOES program through December 2036. The Japanese have been using this technology for the last two years.

GOES-R will be able to measure cloud thickness and atmospheric moisture, track lightning and even monitor dangerous levels of air pollution.

The satellite will monitor the "weather" of outer space. It will capture more advanced images of the sun and will be able to take other crucial measurements of space weather that could threaten Earth, disable communication systems, interrupt power utilities and even disrupt our navigation systems.

According to CBS Minnesota, manufacturing, launch and 30 years of maintenance costs for all four satellites adds up to $10.8 billion — or about $361 million a year.

Weather disasters have cost the US $12-billion weather in 2016, just through August.

"With 98% of all presidentially-declared disasters, weather-related, this satellite really has the potential to save so much," Furgione said.

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