What are Weather Forecasting Satellites

Satellites have been used for gathering information to forecast weather for more than 40 years now with the first weather forecasting satellite TIROS-1 being launched by U.S.A in 1960.Now-a-days with the use of sophisticated on-board instruments and data processing systems, quick and accurate predictions can be made about the weather in every region of the earth. Some of the elements that a satellite can be used to provide information about are cloud formations, their type and position, extent and intensity of frontal depressions etc. Timely predictions can be made about natural disasters like hurricanes and typhoons with the help of this data which can help to save lives and to minimize damage to property.

A weather broadcasting satellite takes a sequence of pictures and quickly transmits the data about them to a processing unit which then predicts factors like the movement of clouds, wind speeds in the various layers of atmosphere etc. from it. The most important of equipments in a weather broadcasting satellite is a radio meter that measures the amount of radiations. The visible region of the spectrum of these radiations is used as pictures for weather analysis. The infrared region can be used for coverage during both day and night times.

The pictures are in black and white form with the black spots showing regions of high temperature while the low temperature being displayed by the white spots. The heights of the clouds are pictured in various shades of grey.

Further, these weather forecasting satellites can be divided in to two main categories:-

Geostationary Satellites Polar Satellites

Geostationary satellites, whose position is fixed with respect to the earth surface, are used to provide continuous coverage of a large geographical area at all times of the day. The polar satellites that revolve around the earth in polar orbits with a high speed can provide complete global coverage through a period of twelve hours. But these can’t be used for continuous monitoring of a particular area like the geostationary satellites.

A big advantage of using the satellites for weather forecasting is that they can cover the remote areas where the traditional techniques are sparse or non-existent. Also the satellites can provide data to the user at a high speed about many factors, therefore helping in making timely weather forecasts.

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