Thursday, April 1, 2010

50th Anniversary of Revolutionary Weather Satellite TIROS-1

Today marks the 50th anniversary of NASA's launch of TIROS-1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Initially delivering a fuzzy picture of thick bands and clusters of clouds over the United States, and later capturing an image of a typhoon off the coast of Australia, TIROS (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) was the first meteorological satellite to revolutionize weather forecasting.

Since the historic NOAA-NASA collaboration in 1960, meteorologists have been able to obtain greater information about severe weather and thus have issued more accurate forecasts and warnings that save lives and protect property. Throughout the 1960s, each TIROS spacecraft carried increasingly advanced instruments and technology, and by 1965, meteorologists combined 450 TIROS images into the first global view of the world’s weather.

Throughout the 1960s NASA launched a total of ten TIROS satellites, and after the turn of the decade it began launching its series of GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) orbiters which further revolutionized weather forecasting and is still to this day depended upon.

NOAA and NASA continue to collaborate. NASA is expected to launch the next generation GOES-R satellites beginning in 2015. These spacecraft will have twice the clarity of today's GOES and provide more than 20 times the information.