Weather from space turns 50

Posted on | April 1, 2010 | No Comments

Fifty years ago today, the world’s first weather satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Not even a blown April Fools rain forecast for Los Angeles can suppress the jubilation at NOAA, which adds: “The first image from the satellite, known as TIROS-1 (Television Infrared Observation Satellite), was a fuzzy picture of thick bands and clusters of clouds over the United States. An image captured a few days later revealed a typhoon about a 1,000 miles east of Australia.”

TIROS-1, (NASA photo left) a polar-orbiting satellite that lasted 78 days, weighed 270 pounds and carried two cameras and two video recorders.

Below, as contrast, is a March 2010 NASA satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Paul, posted today at NASA’s Earth Observatory. This was taken by the Aqua satellite, launched in May 2002 as part of a project to better understand the Earth’s water cycle. Single click on the cyclone image to enlarge it.

Many thanks to meteorologist/blogger Bad Mom, Good Mom for the alert to the anniversary and whose website marks the occasion with a delightful essay on weather satellite orbits and watching.

This post has been updated. The Aqua image of Tropical Cyclone Paul was uploaded.


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