This artifact is an Improved Tiros Operational Satellite (ITOS) flight spare. Initiated in 1970, six ITOS were deployed to provide, for the first time, day-to-day, routine weather observation and forecasting. The ITOS succeeded the TIROS series of satellites, which began providing data on the earth's weather in 1960. NASA oversaw production of the satellites; once in orbit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) handled their operation and distributed weather data.
ITOS flew in a polar, sun synchronous orbit and, in a crucial improvement from the TIROS series, was stabilized to always point its cameras and other sensors at the Earth. The satellite carried Automatic Picture Transmission cameras to provide instant weather data to ground stations around the world; Advanced Vidicon Camera Subsystems for detailed observations; and scanning radiometers for imaging the earth at night.
This artifact was transferred in 1980 from the International Communications Agency to NASM.