Tag Archives: GOES

GOES GRB First Light!

When the GOES-16 was first announced I got interested in their GRB Downlink (although the first try was at HRIT downlink). Basically GRB is a replacement for the old PDR downlink in GOES 13/14/15 generation, which gives few advantages over the old link:

  • Uses market standard DVB-S2 Generic Stream
  • Have FEC (as defined by DVB-S2)
  • Higher bandwidth
  • Easier to receive due DVB-S2 FEC

For those who don’t know, the GRB is a direct rebroadcast of GOES data, with minimum processing as possible (usually just packaged into NetCDF files with calibration parameters) and is intended for anyone that want’s to get full data from the satellite.

The down-link itself is split into two channels transmitted at same frequency (1684.5 MHz) with different circular polarities. That makes extremely necessary to use Circular Polarized feeds, since a Linear Feed will suffer with cross polarization (sum of each channel at the same signal).

For HRIT downlink usually a 1 meter dish is enough for receiving with a good signal (needs a very good hardware setup though). But for GRB, the minimum dish size listed by NOAA is 3.8m for the best regions.

GRB Recommended Dish Size by NOAA

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Some LNA tests for HRIT/LRIT

So I was talking with @luigi on OSP RocketChat and he noticed that one of the LNA’s I suggested alogn with the LNA4ALL (the SPF5189) got a comment on ebay saying that it doesn’t work on L Band.

So that was weird to me, since I have 5 of them, and one currently in use with my GOES setup. So I decided to do a small and crude benchmark for L Band comparing no LNA with LNA4ALL and SPF5189.

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GOES 16 Test Week Results

In the week from March 27th to 31 NOAA performed some new downstream tests over HRIT link on GOES-16. The idea was to transfer some CMI (Cloud and Moisture Imaging) products and see if the software developers and current stations could receive it fine. Before starting talking about that, please notice that all data sent so far is stated as test data and should not be used for any real world measurements. As NOAA states (and I forwarded on my last post):

The user of that link assumes all risks related to the use of their data and NOAA disclaims and any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

So I kept my dish pointed to GOES-16 all over the week and did record the Monday testing (that contained CMI images) and recorded all files sent all over the week. Some of them are automatically posted on Twitter / Instagram by my OSP Bot but not all of them. I had discovered some issues with my Virtual Channel Ingestor on GOES Dump, and also most of the new data was not being handled correctly by Goes Dump. Working together with @usa_satcom we managed to almost zero-out the bugs in GOES Dump.

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GOES 16 in the house!

Few *times* ago I started to check on GOES 16 transmissions to see if I can get any data from it and make OpenSatelliteProject work with it. Me and @usa_satcom noticed that the HRIT signal was transmitting using differential encoding that was not predicted on NOAA’s HRIT Specification (You can check it here http://www.goes-r.gov/users/hrit-links.html ). So I decided to send an email to NOAA asking what was the current HRIT specs for GOES-16. Of course I expected no answer from them (they would probably be really busy with GOES-16 Testing), but surprisingly they answered sending the specs and saying that any feedbacks would be helpful and appreciated. So the HRIT indeed uses Differential Encoding (NRZ-M to be more specific). Knowing that I could start changing OpenSatelliteProject to be compatible with HRIT.

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New 2.2m dish from Embrasat!

It has been some time since I posted something here about my satellite projects. So now I finished assembling my new dish! Previous (on GOES Satellite Hunt) I use a 1.9m TV dish that was cheap (R$200 or about US$70) and got really nice results (about 6dB SNR on LRIT and 10dB SNR on EMWIN). But I was willing to get the new GRB Signal from GOES-16 (previous named as GOES-R) that went up to Geostationary orbit last month. The GRB is the replacement for the GOES 13/14/15 GVAR signal. Basically GVAR is a rebroadcast of the partially processed data from the satellite. It is basically the raw sensor data packed in a format so the users can get and process by their own. The disadvantage of GVAR system over LRIT is that it does not have any error correcting methods. So either you have a very good signal, or you don’t have anything at all. The GRB signal that is on GOES-16 will send same raw data as the GVAR (actually it will send more data than GVAR, but thats another point) but now it will use DVB-S2, a market standard, for transmitting their data. Being DVB-S2 it does have error correcting like LRIT signal ( wikipedia has a good info about DVB-S2). But the bandwidth of GRB is much higher than LRIT and GVAR (LRIT is 600kHz wide, GVAR is 2.5MHz wide and GRB is 9MHz wide) so I would need a bigger dish to get a good signal.

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GOES Satellite Hunt (Part 5 – File Assembler)

In the last chapter of my GOES Satellite Hunt, I explained how to obtain the packets. In this part I will explain how to aggregate and decompress the packets to generate the LRIT files.  This part will be somwhat quick, because most of the hard stuff was already done in the last part. Sadly the decompression algorithm is a modified RICE algorithm, and the Linux version of the library provided by NOAA cannot be used anymore because of incompatibilities between GCC ABIs ( The NOAA library has been compiled with GCC 2). Until I reverse engineer and create a open version of the decompression algorithm, I will use the  workaround I will explain here.

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GOES Satellite Hunt (Part 4 – Packet Demuxer)

In the last chapter I showed how to get the frames from the demodulated bit stream. In this chapter I will show you how to parse these frames and get the packets that will on next chapter generate the files that GOES send. I will first add C code to the code I did in the last chapter to separated all the virtual channels by ID. But mainly this chapter will be done in python (just because its easier, I will eventually make a C code as well to do the stuff).

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GOES Satellite Hunt (Part 3 – Frame Decoder)

In the last chapter of GOES Satellite Hunt, I explained how I did the BPSK Demodulator for the LRIT Signal. Now I will explain how to decode the output of the data we got in the last chapter.

One thing that is worth mentioning is that most (if not all) weather satellites that transmit digital signals use the CCSDS standard packet format, or at least something based on it. For example this frame decoder can be used (with some modifications due QPSK instead BPSK) for LRPT Signals from Meteor Satellites (I plan to do a LRPT decoder as well in the future, and I will post about it). I will not describe my entire code here, just the pieces for decoding the data. I will also not write the entire code here, since it can be checked in github. So before start see the picture below (again). We will some info from it as well.

LRIT Signal Specifications

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GOES Satellite Hunt (Part 2 – Demodulator)

In the last episode of my GOES Satellite Hunt I explained how I manage to build a reception system to get the GOES LRIT Signal. Now I will explain how to get the packets out of the LRIT signal. I choose the LRIT signal basically because of two reasons:

  1. It contains basically all EMWIN data + Full Disks from GOES 13 and 15.
  2. Less complexity on the demodulator side (Simple BPSK Demodulator)

This is the LRIT Specification (theoretically):

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GOES Satellite Hunt (Part 1 – Antenna System)


So few people know that I started a crusade against GOES 13 Satellite. My idea was to capture the GOES 13 signal (that’s reachable in São Paulo) with a good SNR (enough to decode) and them make all the toolkit to demodulate, decode and output the images and other data they send. I wanted a high-res image, and the L-Band transmissions usually provide that (GOES for example is 1km/px with whole earth sphere in frame. A 10000 x 10000 pixels image)

So I choose GOES over other Weather Satellites mainly because GOES is a Geostationary Satellite. That means its position never change. That was needed for me, because L Band usually needs a relatively big dish to capture the signal, and if the satellite is moving, the antenna needs to track it. That means: Alt-Az tracker (or something else) that will be most likely more expensive than the whole capture system (at least in Brazil). Since GOES does not move, I could just point my dish and forget about it. It would always capture the signal.

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