(Television and Infrared Observation Satellite)
The world's first
weather satellite, TIROS-1, was launched on April 1,1960. It provided
more than 22,000 pictures of the Earth from orbit. This new way to look
at Earth's weather revolutionized the science of storm prediction. Now
even the most remote places on Earth could be monitored regularly.
Between 1960 and
1965, nine more satellites were launched in the TIROS program. TIROS instruments
included wide and narrow angle television cameras.
The Air and Space
Museum's satellite is a TIROS-II prototype designed for ground testing.
Courtesy of NASA
Views of Earth's
weather patterns from TIROS IX
In 1965, 450 TIROS images
were put together to produce the first complete global view of the Earth's
(Improved TIROS Operational System)
ITOS (Improved TIROS Operational System) satellites were the second series
of TIROS operational satellites. Their predecessors, the TOS (TIROS Operational
System) satellites represented a step up from a research and development
phase into a fully operational program. ITOS-1, launched in January 1970,
greatly surpassed the performance of the earlier satellites by providing
both direct transmission and storage of television and infrared imagery.
Later ITOS spacecraft also supplied vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature.
ITOS satellites remained in service through 1979.
The Air and Space
Museum's ITOS satellite was designed for ground engineering tests.
Courtesy of RCA Astro Electronics.
The seventh ITOS being readied for launch.
ITOS launch on a Delta rocket.
Scene of Canada and the Great Lakes from the first ITOS satellite.
Launched in 1978, TIROS-N was the first in the series of the third generation
polar orbiting operational satellites. TIROS-N was equipped with instruments
for visible and infrared imaging, ocean temperature readings, and atmospheric
studies. Later satellites in the series were designated NOAA.
The Museum's 1/10 Scale model is courtesy of RCA Astro Electronics
Launched in June 2002, NOAA 17 is the latest in the advanced TIROS-N (ATN)
series of satellites. Like its predessors, this polar-orbiting spacecraft
supports environmental monitoring instruments for the imaging and measurement
of the Earth's atmosphere, surface, and cloud cover. The main instrument
of the NOAA satellites, the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer)
collects a variety of data, including the properties of vegetation, cloud
cover, snow, and ice cover, and land and sea surface. NOAA 17 is also the
third spacecraft in the series to carry microwave instruments for the collection
of temperature, moisture, surface and hydrological data in cloudy regions
where visible and infrared instruments are not as effective.