Weather Satellites Facts

Weather Satellites Facts
Weather satellites are a type of satellite that monitors the weather on earth and sends information to scientists and researchers continuously. The idea of observing weather on earth from space was first introduced in the 1940s. The first weather satellite, named the Vanguard 2, was launched in 1959. It lacked in axis of rotation and poor orbit restricted its ability to collect useful data. The first weather satellite that was considered successful was the TIROS-1 that was launched in 1960 by NASA and lasted 78 days. From there satellite technology improved to include polar orbiting, or geostationary.
Interesting Weather Satellites Facts:
Weather satellites can record a variety of weather and other phenomena including clouds, cloud systems, fire, pollution effects, dust storms, sand storms, snow, ice caps, ocean currents, volcanic ash in the air, smoke and much more.
Some countries that fly weather satellites include the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and Europe.
The use of weather satellites has improved the ability to forecast weather significantly.
The visible light images of weather satellites are easily interpreted. Even people with no training can identify clouds, fronts, tropical storms, dust, smog, forests and mountains.
The thermal or infrared images of weather satellites require a trained professional to interpret the images and what they represent.
Geostationary orbiting is one type of orbit for weather satellites. With this type, the satellite orbits the earth at 22,300 miles above the equator where it hovers.
Polar orbiting is the second type of orbit for weather satellites. With this type the satellite sits at an altitude of 530 miles and circles the earth from north to south. A polar orbit satellite sees every location on earth twice each day.
The United States Department of Defense's DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) has a satellite that can see objects such as tankers from space. This is the only weather satellite capable of seeing at night.
The DMSP satellite has taken amazing night photos of fires, lightning, cities, and the Northern Lights.
The DMSP can detect fires and energy use as well as information that can affect fire spreading such as wind and smoldering.
Weather satellites can be used to measure radiation on the earth's surface so that scientists know how much heat and energy the earth is releasing.
Weather satellites can provide information to fishermen regarding the temperature of the ocean which in turn can signal where the fish may be, as well as whether it is safe (weather wise) to head out to sea.
Weather satellites measure the amount of snow and ice, as well as ice field movement. They can also measure the rate at which ice is melting around the world, which will have a great impact on water levels in the future.
Weather satellites can measure crops conditions, drought, and areas where deforestation is occurring.
Weather satellites also collect data from remote locations such as ocean buoys, earthquake measuring stations, weather stations, and can also monitor river conditions and rises in the water that could be dangerous for people in areas where flash flooding is a risk.

Related Links:
Weather Instruments Facts
Animals Facts