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TIROS - World's First Weather Satellite

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TIROS Background
First TIROS Weather Satellite Image

This image was taken by the TIROS 1 satellite and was the first weather image taken from space. It was a large step forward in modern weather forecasting.

NASA Earth Observatory
The TIROS program was the beginning of modern satellite weather technology. TIROS stands for Television Infrared Observation Satellite and the satellite was NASA’s first attempt to see if satellites could help researchers and scientists to better understand our planet. Launched on April 1, 1960 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the TIROS-1 satellite was the first step to space-based meteorology.

The world of meteorology was limited prior to the launch of TIROS-1. A television weather man was limited to offering cartoon-like weather reports as can be seen in this 1950’s weather report.

But all of that was about to change. As early as 1939 George Mindling, a poetic Weather Bureau official, predicted:

Television is coming, it is not far away;
We'll be using that too in a not distant day.
Photographs will be made by the infra red light
That will show us the clouds both by day and by night.
From an altitude high in the clear stratosphere
Will come pictures of storms raging far if not near
Revealing in detail across many States
The conditions of weather affecting our fates....
In the coming perpetual visiontone show
We shall see the full action of storms as they go.
We shall watch them develop on far away seas,
And we'll plot out their courses with much greater ease.
Poem courtesy of NOAA 200th Anniversary Website
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