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How to Download Live Images from Government Weather Satellites (2018) (hackernoon.com)
228 points by DyslexicAtheist 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

The article describes how to receive weather imagery directly from satellites using an SDR. It's a fun project, and surely useful if you don't have Internet access.

However, if you do have Internet access, GOES-16 [1] provides a beautiful full-color live feed of the Earth which you can easily download with wget/curl. For example, paste the following:

    wget $(curl -s https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk.php?sat=G16 | grep -o -e 'https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/[0-9]*_GOES16-ABI-FD-GEOCOLOR-1808x1808.jpg' | head -1) -O earth.jpg && open earth.jpg

It's fun to use as a live-updating wallpaper or background.

[1] https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk.php?sat=G16

The only fix to your script is to use `display` command to open image (NOT `open` command).[0]

    wget $(curl -s https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk.php?sat=G16 | grep -o -e 'https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/[0-9]*_GOES16-ABI-FD-GEOCOLOR-1808x1808.jpg' | head -1) -O earth.jpg && display earth.jpg
And here is my resulted preview.[1]

UPD: Found that this CDN[2] also has static links to latest image, so script could be much more simplified by dropping `curl` and `grep`:

    wget -c https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/1808x1808.jpg -O earth.jpg && display earth.jpg
[0] https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001720.htm

[1] https://i.imgur.com/gFaVvhz.jpg

[2] https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/

You can also avoid using the file:

  wget $(...) -O - | display -

I combine this and 3 other satellites on my twitter bot into daily videos if you're interested.


Cool! Got any multi-day/week/month videos?

This works on MacOS without wget:

    curl $(curl -s https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk.php?sat=G16 | grep -o -e 'https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/[0-9]*_GOES16-ABI-FD-GEOCOLOR-1808x1808.jpg' | head -1) -o earth.jpg && open earth.jpg

Do you know any reason this wouldn't work with zsh? I'm getting

  zsh: no matches found: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/fulldisk.php?sat=G16

Zsh is trying to expand the glob, either quote it or prepend the command with “noglob”.

Ah, that was it. Much appreciated.

Sorry, I just changed the original until it worked in MacOS in the default bash terminal. I kinda hate shell scripting to be honest.

If one just wants the latest 1808x1808 jpg, this seems simpler:

     wget https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/1808x1808.jpg
source: https://cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES16/ABI/FD/GEOCOLOR/

Don't know why, but today this CDN page seems like lost its SSL-certificate and now Firefox prevent loading this page due to “Untrusted Connection”.

Strange, but yesterday I had no such issue.

The certificate for cdn.star.nesdis.noaa.gov expired on 1/13/2020.


It looks they were using a free certificate from Lets Encypt. These only last for a few months.

Lets Encrypt only does "Domain Validation" so the registrant of the domain name is the only thing they check. They do not issue certificates for IP addresses.

This website works without a domain name. The traffic is still encrypted. How do we know this is really NOAA running the website at this IP address? We can check and see that the IP address belongs to AS 6629 and that AS belongs to NOAA.

It is arguable this information provides better "authentication" than the Lets Encrypt certificate. It is certainly easier to fraudulently gain control over a domain name from a domain name registrar than it is to fraudulently gain control over an IP address block from a regional internet registry or via BGP hijacking.

GOES-16 covers America, if I see it correctly (currently on mobile, sorry).

Does anyone happen to know if there is something comparable for the other side of the pond, e.g. Europe?

I tried to search ESA, but haven‘t found anything (again, on mobile, so that might be the reason).

Some of the Landsat ones have a web service to download any covered area of earth. They pass over the same area about every 14 days though, so you won’t get a life feed of a location.

Trying to find that as well!

The best I could find for now is the EUMETSAT feed[1], but it is updated every hour and not as good as GOES-16 at night.

[1]: https://eumetview.eumetsat.int/static-images/MSG/RGB/NATURAL...

Both GOES and MSG (the EUMETSAT version) have similar abilites at night (the both rely on infra-red)

The GOES nighttime image is not a real image, but a composite of the IR band (similar to [1]) and a night lights image (probably from VIIRS [2]).

You could do something similar with MSG if you wanted (e.g. [3])

[1] - https://eumetview.eumetsat.int/static-images/MSG/IMAGERY/IR1...

[2] - https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/?v=-112.54695174385678,...

[3] - https://rammb-slider.cira.colostate.edu/?sat=meteosat-11&z=0...

From the article:

> The satellites’ orbits are configured such that one of the three passes within almost every point on the globe every three hours.

So these cover Europe too.

But the view displayed on the website isn't changing. There's an "east" page displaying an amazing view of South America and a "west" page displaying mostly the Pacific Ocean. Images supposedly update every ten minutes, but those are the only two views you get.

That's correct, thank you - but this only applies to the raw satellite link. The data itself is not available for download for the european region, afaik - that was what I was asking for. :)

Good, but it is Python-way ;)

One of the most interesting parts of this exercise to me is seeing the Doppler effect in the frequency of LEO satellites as they pass overhead.

E.g.: https://www.reddit.com/r/RTLSDR/comments/7qalaj/visualizing_...

It’s also fun to build the absolute sketchiest MacGyver antenna you can imagine and use it to pick up a signal from space.

The February 1985 issue of Rainbow Magazine had an program listing for Wefax, which made it possible for owners of the TRS-80 Color Computer to receive weather satellite images using a shortwave radio. This looks like a more advanced version of the same thing. Back then it blew my mind that a home computer could do such a thing. I didn't have a shortwave radio so I never was able to make use of the program. Will have to play with this one, if for no other reason than to fulfill my childhood fantasy of having an at home satellite receiving station. Won't the ladies at my high school reunion be impressed! (Probably not)

The Wefax pictures you could/can receive over shortwave radio are retransmitted from the satellites over shortwave for Marine interests.

Those pictures look... pretty rough. I know the author says you can clean them up in software but doesn't provide any pictures of the images they've received cleaned up in the software they've recommended.

Is this actually worthwhile for anything other than just hacking for fun? Or is getting any useful data from this going to be a full-time job by itself?

Personally i would say this is just a fun project and novelty factor of receiving a transmission from the satellite. If you actually want to get your hands on weather data and do useful stuff with it let NOAA do the heavy lifting. I can wager that most of us here probably dont want to write the code to seam together satellite images and clean them up. However i wont stop anyone, have at it friends.

If we ever got ourselves into a SHTF scenario (global thermonuclear war etc), the lack of local internet access could be a problem.

The satellites you are receiving in this article are the NOAA-XX ones, which are completely self-contained and literally sweep the earth in Orbit broadcasting exactly what they see directly below them.

This could function as a completely self contained weather forecasting tool only requiring solar power and no government based ground infrastructure to support. Current satellite pictures that you are used to seeing from the news and weather forecasting agencies use the GOES satellites, which actually rely on ground based infrastructure to process and then rebroadcast the products that are disseminated from them. (Think: downlink-process-uplink and then downlink to consumers).

Provided in a SHTF scenario that the satellites weren't taken out - they are completely self contained and just broadcast regardless of what happens on the earth.

Lets put it this way: If you were doing this for something else than fun, you'd invest a bit more than ten bucks for a radio receiver USB dongle and some scrap metal wire.

I appreciated these images during recent wildfires. They answered questions like, "is this smoke from something local or is it more likely from that fire that's 50 miles away," and you could also compare sets of imagery yourself which was kind of empowering.

I chase storms in my free time, and there are still a lot of areas in the US where Internet connectivity is poor or non-existent. I had an idea for an e-ink powered device that pulled down satellite images like this, but I never got very far with it.

Satellite data tells you pretty much everything you would need to forecast at a basic level, especially with the derived soundings.

To get better images you're going to need a better antenna. But if you have a use for the images is really up to you.

Answering your question with a question... where do super-amazing-ultra-resolution satellite images come from, and can I download those using commodity/off-the-shelf equipment?

A good video regarding this topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjClTnZ4Xh4

oh, man, I remember doing this in high school in the 90s (our system was run by one of my favorite teachers. He narrowly missed the Challenger explosion as a finalist of McAuliffe's spot). These satellites just rain information down to Earth.

I think we used an HPUX system to ingest and visualize data from the antenna. Definitely something Unixy.

You can also download fairly up-to-date ESA imagery and radar images from https://scihub.copernicus.eu/. This covers a fairly large area worldwide.

Or install the McIDAS suite:


Might sound as a stupid question but is it legal to consume and use the images?

Yes. At least in the case of American satellites. Basically all information produced by the US (federal) Government that is not classified is in the public domain.[1] There are all sorts of weaselly ways that companies and in some cases government agencies try to limit this (for example, West Publishing, the company that publishes laws has copyright on the page numbers which are needed to reference those laws[2]), but in this case we're talking about raw data, transmitted on public airwaves, so there is really no question that it's in the public domain.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_status_of_works_by_t...

[2] https://www.wired.com/1994/05/the-law/

Cool hacking project.

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