PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Observing Weather from Space

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Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1085-1086
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185867

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On 1 April 1960, the world's first weather satellite, the Television Infrared Observation Satellite 1 (TIROS 1), was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, into a 99-min orbit at an altitude of about 725 km. The cylindrical (1.1-m diameter, 0.48-m tall), 120-kg spacecraft was spin-stabilized, rotating between 8 and 12 times per min. It carried two television cameras that pointed parallel to the spin axis and could take 32 pictures per orbit (1). Although the results were modest by today's standards (see the figure), TIROS 1 revolutionized the field of meteorology.