NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Geoscience Australia's NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) service is currently offline until further notice due to a hardware issue. We apologise for any inconvenience. Any enquiries relating to accessing NOAA data in the future should be addressed to
NOAA satellite

How to get NOAA imagery and data

For further information, please contact: Earth Observation Client Services.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the USA operate the series of NOAA satellites which each carry the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor. These sensors collect global data on a daily basis for a variety of land, ocean, and atmospheric applications. Specific applications include forest fire detection, vegetation analysis, weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, ocean dynamics research and search and rescue.

Satellite characteristics

The AVHRR sensor is a five or six channel (depending on the model) scanner, sensing the visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It provides global on board collection of data over a 2399 km swath. The sensor orbits the earth 14 times each day from an altitude of 833 km.

Geoscience Australia collects direct broadcast AVHRR data (ie. not recorded data) from within our acquisition circle several times every day. A dedicated NOAA antenna in Alice Springs permits acquisition of day and night-time passes. There are normally about two day-time passes per satellite and two night-time passes per satellite.

Spacecraft Parameters

AVHRR Sensor Characteristics

Swath width 2399km
Resolution at nadir 1.1km approx.
Altitude 833km
Quantisation 10 bit
Orbit type Sun synchronous
Number of orbits per day 14.1 (approx.)

AVHRR Spectral Characteristics

Channel No. Wavelength Typical use
NOAA-15, 16, 17, 18
0.58 - 0.68
Daytime cloud and surface mapping
0.725 - 1.00
Land-water boundaries
Night cloud mapping, sea surface temperature
1.58 - 1.64
Snow and ice detection
3.55 - 3.93
Night cloud mapping, sea surface temperature
10.30 - 11.30
Night cloud mapping, sea surface temperature
11.50 - 12.50
Sea surface temperature

Historical information

The first operational NOAA satellite (NOAA-6) was launched in 1979. This was followed by a series of additional NOAA satellites with the latest launch being NOAA-18 in May 2005.