GOES-13 is the first of three third-generation NOAA satellites (GOES N-P) to go into full operation. GOES-O (-14) and -P are in orbit in standby mode (GOES-P having just arrived in orbit in the past month). The GOES satellites (which stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) provide meteorologists and reseachers with a vital tool in monitoring weather conditions and tracking severe storms. They maintain a geosynchronous orbit - staying in the same position over the earth at all times.
The next generation of GOES satellites, the highly-anticipated GOES-R series, will carry even more advanced technology than the current satellites, including much higher spatial and temporal resolution and realtime lightning mapping. The first is scheduled to be launched aboard a Delta IV rocket in 2015.
For more information on the GOES satellites, visit these links:
Info on the GOES-R satellite (GOES-R.gov)