The Franklin Institute's Resources for Science Learning x
Home (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)For Learners (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)For Educators (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)Leadership (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)Partnership (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)About Us (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)

It's like being...

O n   T h e   O u t s i d e ,   L o o k i n g   I n

 
They aren't THAT old.

In 1947, an unmanned American rocket carried a camera into outer space and recorded pictures of Earth from space. The pictures showed how the atmosphere appeared from above. Cloud formations were clearly visible. The pictures gave scientists proof that weather observations could be made from space on a regular basis.

In 1960, the first weather satellite was launched into orbit around planet Earth. Called TIROS, for Television InfraRed Observational Satellite, it carried a video camera to make regular observations of the atmosphere below. For the first time, meteorologists were able to compare their localized ground-based weather observations with broader pictures of the weather system. Weather forecasting took a dramatic leap forward. After the initial successes, nine more TIROS satellites were put into orbit during the 1960s.

In 1966, the United States placed its first weather satellite in high, geostationary orbit. Called ATS, for Applications Technology Satellite, the satellite travelled at the same speed the Earth rotates, appearing to remain stationary with respect to the Earth below. From this geostationary orbit location 22,300 miles above the equator, ATS took the first pictures showing a whole hemisphere of the Earth at once. With ATS images, meteorologists saw how clouds moved and storms formed over wide regions.

The development of satellite weather technology had an enormous impact on the field of meteorology. The "big pictures" came into focus, and weather forecasting became more accurate.

 
GO: