Who Shot It Better? Earth: GOES-16 or Himawari 9

Who Shot It Better? Earth: GOES-16 or Himawari 9

In honor of Earth Day, we present another edition of Who Shot It Better featuring the Big Blue Marble and a pair of geostationary weather satellites: NOAA’s GOES-16 and the Japan Meteorological Agency’s (JPA) Himawari 9.

Although weathermen are the butt of many jokes, weather satellites play a crucial role in monitoring and understanding everything from storms to pollution. Both the US and Japan maintain geostationary satellites which, as their name suggests, hover over a single area of the earth providing near constant imagery. But the imaging units aren’t confined to visible light. Multi-spectral cameras record visible, near infrared, and infrared images giving the satellites the ability to see through clouds and peer deep into energetic storm systems.

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies maintains a cool page of data taken from JPA’s Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) so you can play with the different bands.


Himawari 9

JMA launched the Himawari 9 on November 2, 2016 and is an identical construction to the Himawari 8, which has been in operational serviced since July 2015. According to Wired, the satellite delivers a full image of the earth every 10 minutes with even more detailed images being returned every 30 seconds. 22 swaths of images are composited to create a full picture of Earth.

Japan Meteorological Agency


The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched its latest geosynchronous weather satellite, the GOES-16, on November 19, 2016. Although its still in its post-launch testing phase, the satellite started sending back imagery in January 2017. NOAA’s version of AHI is called ABI – the Advanced Baseline Imager, and in truth, it’s very similar to AHI providing 16 spectral bands of imaging.

GOES-16 is a huge upgrade from its predecessor, and provides four times more spatial resolution.


GOES-16 doesn’t just look at the Earth, it’s got a pair of imagers facing the sun! Here’s one of the first from SUVI, the Solar Ultraviolet Imager showing a large coronal hole. Wow, that’s, um, hot!

Verdict: We all win! Human ingenuity combined with science provides us with an amazing look at our world and beyond. We only have one, so take care of it, y’all!

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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