Satellites sharpen focus on weather
The GOES-R satellites will deliver pictures four times sharper than current orbiters and will scan the Earth five times faster, providing more data and more-frequent storm updates.
"They'll provide more-accurate forecasts of where a hurricane will make landfall or where a tornado might strike and how intense they'll be," said Tony Comberiate, program manager for GOES-R.
The new satellites will be able to zoom in on stormy regions and spot severe thunderstorms as they're forming, allowing earlier warnings to the public.
They'll carry lightning mappers to track severe weather. And they'll have a sun-monitoring camera to watch for solar storms that can disrupt communications systems.
The four satellites and their ground-based support facilities are expected to cost $6 billion to $8 billion, Comberiate said during the opening day of the three-day conference.
The first of these next-generation satellites is expected to launch in 2014.
Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing for the contract to build them.