Abbreviation for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites. These satellites are primarily responsible for taking the orbital photos of clouds and weather systems which are used by meteorologists worldwide to display and predict the weather. However, their sensor arrays have been used for a wide variety of applications, including predicting a Hawaiian volcano eruption, monitoring flash floods in real time, and identifying hot spots in large forest fires.)

The GOES program was launched by NASA in 1968, and once operational was turned over to NOAA for day-to-day administration. Every few years a new GOES satellite is launched with more advanced sensor and transmission equipment; each satellite is sent up with an expected functional lifetime of 3 to 5 years, and launches are scheduled so that two satellites are in orbit at all times.

Before launch each satellite is tagged with a letter (GOES-I, GOES-J, etc.) to distinguish it from its predecessors, but once in orbit it is identified with a number (GOES-7, GOES-8, etc.).

Satellite name  Launch rocket   Launch date
--------------- --------------- -------------------
GOES-1          Delta 2914      October 16, 1975
GOES-2          Delta 2914      June 16, 1977
GOES-3          Delta 2914      June 16, 1978
GOES-4          Delta 3914      September 9, 1980
GOES-5          Delta 3914      May 22, 1981
GOES-6          Delta 3914      April 28, 1983
GOES-7          Delta 3914      April 28, 1983
GOES-G          Delta 3914      May 3, 1986*
GOES-8          Atlas-1         April 13, 1994
GOES-9          Atlas-1         May 23, 1995
GOES-10         Atlas-1         April 25, 1997
GOES-11         Atlas IIA       August 15, 2000
GOES-12         Atlas IIA       July 23, 2001
* The launch rocket was struck by lightning shortly after liftoff and the satellite was never deployed