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TIROS-N/NOAA Program
1978-1986

The TIROS-N/NOAA Program (Television InfraRed Operational Satellite - Next-generation) was NASA's next step in improving the operational capability of the TIROS system first tried in the 1960's and the ITOS/NOAA system of the 1970's. Technological improvements integrated into the satellite system provided higher resolution imagine, and more day and night quantitative environmental data on local and global scales than seen with the two earlier generations of TIROS. Like earlier TIROS systems, NASA took responsibility for the satellite only until proven operational. Once operational the satellite's name was changed to 'NOAA' with day to day use under the direction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The TIROS-N/NOAA satellite series carried the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). The AVHRR provided day and night cloud-top and sea surface temperatures, as well as ice and snow conditions. The satellite also carried an atmospheric sounding system (TOVS - TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder) which provided vertical profiles of temperature and water vapor from the Earth's surface to the top of the atmosphere; and a solar proton monitor to detect the arrival of energetic particles for use in solar storm prediction. For the first time, this satellite carried a data collection platform used to receive, process and store information from free floating balloons and buoys worldwide for transmission to one central processing facility.

The TIROS-N/NOAA satellite series continue to provide daily observations of the world's weather.

    TIROS-N/NOAA Program Satellites:
  • TIROS-N 1978 - 1981
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 6 1978 - 1981
  • TIROS-N/NOAA B 1980 Failed
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 7 1981 - 1986
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 8 1983 - 1985
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 9 1984 - 1993, 1997 - 1998
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 10 1986 - 1991
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 11 1988 - 1994, 1997 - Present
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 12 1991 - Present
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 13 1993 Failed
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 14 1994 - Present
  • TIROS-N/NOAA 15 1998 - Present

Check the individual Satellite pages for specific details.

TIROS-N Satellite Objectives: To provide higher resolution, day and night quantitative environmental data on local and global scales with technologically superior instrumentation than that which was available on the earlier ITOS/NOAA satellites.

Description: The spacecraft was rectangularly shaped (146" long by 74" high) with one large solar panel attached. The satellite was Earth oriented, three-axis stabilized and weighed 1594 pounds.

TIROS-N was an experimental satellite which carried an Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) to provide day and night cloud top and sea surface temperatures, as well as ice and snow conditions; an atmospheric sounding system (TOVS - TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder) to provide vertical profiles of temperature and water vapor from the Earth's surface to the top of the atmosphere; and a solar proton monitor to detect the arrival of energetic particles for use in solar storm prediction. For the first time, this satellite also carried a data collection platform used to receive, process and store information from free floating balloons and buoys worldwide for transmission to one central processing facility.

TIROS-N was placed in a near circular, (470nm) polar orbit. The craft and its systems operated successfully, providing high-resolution scanned images and vertical temperature and moisture profiles to both operational meteorologists and private interests with APT and HRPT capability.

Participants: NASA, RCA AstroElectronics, NOAA, US Weather Bureau.


ESE 40th Anniversary * Nimbus-7 *
Objectives: To determine the physical characterization of the global atmosphere, the oceans, the ocean-atmosphere interface, and the Earth's heat balance. NIMBUS-7 carried eight highly complex sensors which were all improved versions of sensors previousl
Size: 4K


ESE 40th Anniversary * SMS-2 *
Objectives: Sense meteorological conditions from a fixed location above the Earth; provide this data to operational forecasters and private interests on the ground. The satellite was designed to compliment SMS-1 and cover the Western U.S. and Pacific bas
Size: 3K

ESE 40th Anniversary * ITOS-B *
Objectives: Double the daily coverage of the ESSA satellites, provide infrared imagery, cloud top temperature and surface temperature every twelve hours to APT users. The spacecraft (which would have been NOAA-2) failed to achieve a usable orbit. Photo:I
Size: 3K

ESE 40th Anniversary * ATS-4 *
Objectives: Evaluate gravity-gradient stabilization and new imaging techniques for meteorological data retrieval. The satellite's orbit was too low and the resulting atmospheric drag caused it to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. Photo: ATS-4 photographs B
Size: 2K

ESE 40th Anniversary * ATS-3 *
Objectives: Develop the experimental geostationary techniques of satellite orbit and motion, measure the orbital environment at 23,000 miles above the Earth's surface, and transmit meteorological information (imagery and data) to surface ground stations.
Size: 4K

ESE 40th Anniversary * ATS-2 *
Objectives: Test the experimental geostationary techniques of satellite orbit and motion; measure the orbital environment at 23,000 miles above the Earth's surface; transmit meteorological information (imagery and data) to surface ground stations. Descrip
Size: 2K

ESE 40th Anniversary *TIROS-9*
Objectives: Test the "cartwheel" configuration; perform a polar orbit in preparation for the Weather Bureau's completely operational TOS (TIROS Operational Satellites) system. TIROS-9's camera configuration was different than any previous TIROS craft. TI
Size: 4K

ESE 40th Anniversary * ITOS-E *
Objectives: Provide visible and infrared images of cloud cover, snow and ice, and the sea surface; gather information on the vertical structure of temperature and moisture in the atmosphere. The spacecraft (which would have been NOAA-3) failed to achieve
Size: 3K

ESE 40th Anniversary * TIROS-N *
The TIROS-N/NOAA Program (Television InfraRed Operational Satellite - Next-generation) was NASA's next step in improving the operational capability of the TIROS system first tried in the 1960's and the ITOS/NOAA system of the 1970's. Like earlier TIROS s
Size: 6K


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