60 years of satellite meteorology (TIROS-1)
On 1 April 1960, NASA launched the world’s first weather satellite named TIROS-1 (Television Infra Red Observation Satellite). Although the mission was short lived (only 78 days) TIROS-1 sent back 19,389 usable pictures, proving the worth of weather observing satellites to the world and opening the door for the weather systems of the future.
The first image from the satellite was a fuzzy picture of thick bands and clusters of clouds over the United States.
“It really was a milestone in the history of weather observation,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.
Today, with the next generation of environmental observation satellites in orbit we are continuously improving our weather monitoring and prediction with state-of-the-art data and imagery. These satellites are also significantly enhancing our understanding of the Earth as a whole system.
“TIROS was just the first step,” Volz added. “Now we're starting to peel back those environmental layers and understand how they connect together. We can see vegetation health from space and measure how warm the ground is. We can see fires around the world and determine the altimetry of water and waves from space.
All of this is based on what we learned—and what we saw—with our first glimpses from TIROS.”
TIROS Technical Control Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA (File photo, 1964). Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
One of the first images returned (May 9, 1960) by TIROS-1. Superimposed on the cloud patterns is a generalized weather map for the region.
The comparison of the progress in meteorological imaging. Left: image taken by the TIROS 1 satellite, 1960. Right: the same region imaged by the satellite NOAA 15, 2000.
... and today
A video from NASA, on 50th Anniversary of TIROS-1
..... an RCA film for NASA
and TIROS-1 mission profile