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This July 14, 2017, photo shows Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, right, and Space Launch Complex 39 at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA says it may soon have the capability to send astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)

WATCH LIVE: NOAA is launching a weather monitoring satellite into space


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is launching a satellite into space to to help keep an eye on weather patterns. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket carrying the GOES-S satellite is expected to launch Thursday evening from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

GOES-S is the second of four satellites that make up the latest generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program. According to NASA, the information the satellites monitors weather conditions in the United States and across the western hemisphere.

Nasaspaceflight.com breaks down how:

"GOES-S carries a suite of six scientific instruments and is also equipped with a data relay payload. The satellite’s main instrument is the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), which is mounted on its nadir – Earth-facing – side. ABI can produce images of the Earth in sixteen different spectral bands, covering visible light through to infrared. At a visible-light wavelength of 0.64 nanometres, ABI can achieve an imaging resolution of 547 yards, while in the infrared it can image at a resolution of up to 2,187 yards. This is twice the resolution provided by the imager aboard the GOES 15 satellite that GOES-S will replace.

The imager can be operated in full-disc, regional and mesoscale modes. In normal operation it will produce four full-disc images of whole visible face of the Earth, twelve regional scans of the United States and 120 mesoscale images – each covering an area of one million square kilometers (390,000 square miles) – per hour. An alternative mode of operation allows the satellite to produce full-disc images exclusively, outputting a new image every five minutes."

This will be the second launch of the year for the Atlas V rocket, following January’s successful deployment of the SBIRS GEO-4 missile detection satellite.

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