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By Matthew Nighswander

NOAA's new weather satellite sent back its first images and the Earth has never looked sharper.

22,300 miles above the Earth sounds like a long way, but from that distance the GOES-16 satellite is able to capture high-resolution images that are allowing us to see our planet in clearer detail than we ever have before.

Launched in November 2016, the new satellite is the first of four new satellites that will transmit images at a higher-resolution than previously possible. The resulting pictures are pretty to look at but that's not the point. These images could save lives.

"High resolution imagery from GOES-16 will provide sharper and more detailed views of hazardous weather systems and reveal features that previous instruments might have missed," said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s National Weather Service. "As a result, forecasters can issue more accurate, timely, and reliable watches and warnings, and provide better information to emergency managers and other decision makers."

Click on the images below to see them at a larger scale and fully admire their detail.

This image clearly shows the significant storm system that crossed North America that caused freezing and ice that resulted in dangerous conditions across the U.S. on Jan. 15.NOAA
GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked across the surface of the Earth on January 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration.NOAA
Here the satellite captures the shallows waters of the Caribbean.NOAA
On Jan. 15, severe weather moved across the central U.S. before passing through the Northeast on the 16th and 17th where it resulted in wet and wintry weather for travelers across the region.NOAA
GOES-16 captured this image of the west coast of the U.S. and the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.NOAA
The Saharan Dust Layer can be discerned in the far right edge of this image of Earth. This dry air from the coast of Africa can have impacts on tropical cyclone intensity and formation. NOAA
This area of Mexico and Central America is seen from GOES-16 with a largely cloud-free view. A fire and its associated smoke are evident over southern Mexico near the coast.NOAA
This composite color full-disk visible image is from 1:07 p.m. EDT on Jan. 15, 2017 and was created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument.NOAA

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