TAMPA (FOX 13) - When NASA and NOAA launched the GOES-R weather satellite two months ago, they promised it would provide stunning, unprecedented imagery of Earth. So far, the first photos are apparently living up to their expectations.
Monday, NOAA gave the public a first look at what the satellite, now called GOES-16, is sending back from 22,300 miles up.
"The release of the first images today is the latest step in a new age of weather satellites," the agency proclaimed. "It will be like high-definition from the heavens."
Images shared Monday show everything from the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean to sweeping snowfall amidst last week's winter storm in the Northeast. Even the moon made an appearance in one particularly stunning photo.
NOAA says the new images are four times the resolution of those taken by older weather satellites, and can provide a full image of Earth every 15 minutes and one of the continental U.S. every five minutes.
That should allow forecasters to spot and track severe weather sooner and more accurately.
"One of our GOES-16 scientists compared this to seeing a newborn baby's first pictures -- it's that exciting for us," said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., the director of NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. "The fantastically rich images provide us with our first glimpse of the impact GOES-16 will have on developing life-saving forecasts."
The satellite is still being tested and calibrated and won't enter full-time service in the GOES weather satellite fleet until November. A sister satellite is being finished up and is expected to be ready for launch next year.