As early as 1946, the idea of cameras in orbit high above the Earth to observe the weather was being developed. One advantage this would bring was in regions that had sparse data observation coverage. But the expense of using cameras on rockets was very high and the rockets unreliable. By 1958, the early prototypes for TIROS and Vanguard, developed by the Army Signal Corps, were created. The first weather strictly satellite, Vanguard 2, was launched on February 17, 1959. It was designed to measure cloud cover and resistance, but a poor axis of rotation and its elliptical orbit kept it from collecting much of any useful data. The first weather satellite to be considered a success launched by any nation in the world, was TIROS-1, or Television Infrared Observation Satellite, launched by NASA on April 1, 1960. TIROS operated for 78 days and proved to be much more successful than Vanguard 2. TIROS paved the way for the Nimbus program, whose technology and findings are the heritage of most of the Earth-observing satellites NASA and NOAA have launched since then. Beginning with the Nimbus 3 satellite in 1969, temperature information through the entire atmosphere began to be retrieved by satellites from the eastern Atlantic and most of the Pacific Ocean, which led to significant improvements in weather forecasting. Weather satellites collect data for climate, and environmental monitoring applications including precipitation, sea surface temperatures, atmospheric temperature and humidity, sea ice extent, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, global vegetation analysis, hurricane information and cloud cover. The United States was the only country the have a weather satellite in space until June 25, 1966 when the Soviet Union launched it’s first. As of 2020 there are more than a dozen weather satellites in orbit around the Earth, operated by several different counties who all share the weather information.
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