Wednesday, June 19, 2013

50 Years Ago: Tiros System keeps advancing

Duplicate of Tiros satellite used in public exhibitions across America.

It's worth remembering, so close to the beginning of the hurricane season, that we've only had weather satellites in orbit of Earth for a little over 50 years. On June 19, 1963, NASA launched TIROS 7, a 42 inch diameter, 270 pound marvel of 1960's technology. Liftoff was on a Thor-Able rocket from Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Thor-Able rocket. Forerunner of the Delta family of rockets.

Tiros 7 continued the use of two camera systems to record cloud cover and track storms, but also borrowed from an Explorer 17 satellite to include new measurements on temperatures in space and infrared reflections of solar and terrestrial radiation. It would last the longest of the many Tiros satellites, until June of 1968. On its first orbit, its camera 2 detected a cloud vortex over Newfoundland and within an hour had pictures transmitted to ground engineers for analysis. 

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