Thursday, April 1, 2010

50 YA - Tiros 1: First Weather Satellite

Tiros 1 as it would appear in orbit.

On April 1, 1960, NASA launched a Thor-Able rocket carrying the world's first weather satellite, Tiros 1. Tiros stands for Television InfraRed Observation Satellite. It wasn't known yet if satellites could play an important role in Earth observations. One of the main questions to answer would be if photos from space could save lives on the ground. Tiros proved itself successfully. With photos and data from space, weather forecasting took a giant leap forward.

Tiros 1 photo of a hurricane.

For the first time, observations from space of hurricanes out at sea gave weather forecasters enough time to warn people to evacuate and protect property in time. Analysis of weather fronts helped farmers save crops. Ships at sea could be radioed to go around dangerous weather.

For 50 years now, we've benefited from those friendly watchful eyes in space. Every time you watch a weather report on TV, you benefit from the technology developed from this first Tiros satellite.

Tiros 1 continued broadcasting pictures and data until June 15, 1960 when an electrical problem shut down the satellite. It's still up there in orbit, though, slowly rotating, preserved in the vacuum of space.

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