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(Television and Infrared Observation Satellite)

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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

NASA Imagery

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TIROS Mosaic

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In 1965, 450 TIROS images were put together to produce the first complete global view of the Earth's weather patterns.

(Improved TIROS Operational System)

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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.

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The seventh ITOS being readied for launch.
NASA Photograph

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ITOS launch on a Delta rocket.
NASA Photograph

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Scene of Canada and the Great Lakes from the first ITOS satellite.
NASA Photograph


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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


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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.
NOAA drawing

Clouds GOES

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