The GOES 13 through 15 spacecraft each carry a sophisticated X-ray telescope called the Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) to monitor the Sun's hot outer atmosphere, or corona. X-ray photons are created in the million-degree plasma of the solar corona and are not visible from the ground, due to the absorption of the Earth's atmosphere. Observations of solar X-rays aids in the early detection of solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and other phenomena that impact the geospace environment.
The SXI telescopes are mounted on the Sun-pointing solar array gimbles of the GOES weather satellites. These satellites are in geosynchronous orbits that allow continuous solar viewing, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. The only exception to this is around equinox dates when the GOES satellites enter Earth's shadow for up to one hour each day.
Each SXI collects a solar X-ray image once per minute, and the exposure settings follow a sequence that is optimized to observe three primary phenomenon as they are reflected in the Solar atmosphere: coronal structures, active regions, and solar flares.
SWPC processes and presents the images and animations of the GOES SXI instruments in near-real-time, and uses them in analyzing events and in issuing space weather watches, warnings, and alerts.
Images and animations from the SXI instruments on GOES 12 through 15 satellites are available since December 15, 2004. There are gaps in the data from different satellites. Animations for the current primary satellite can be found on our GOES Solar X-ray Imager. More details can be found at: http://sxi.ngdc.noaa.gov/sxi_data_notes.html and http://sxi.ngdc.noaa.gov/