NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations

NOAA's Environmental Satellites: A History

The year 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of NOAA's launch of the world's first weather satellite. With today's advanced technology, and with images of clouds shown daily on television weather forecasts, it may be difficult to remember the days when there were no weather satellites.

Today, the nation's environmental satellites are operated by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) in Suitland, Maryland. NOAA's operational environmental satellite system is composed of two types of satellites: geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) for national, regional, short-range warning and "now-casting," and polar-orbiting environmental satellites (POES) for global, long-term forecasting and environmental monitoring. Both types of satellites are necessary for providing a complete global weather monitoring system.

In addition, NOAA operates satellites in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which are also polar-orbiting satellites. NESDIS also manages the processing and distribution of the millions of bits of data and images the satellites produce each day.


A History in Images
NOAA Photo Library
First television pictures from space

Historical Images
Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI)
Katrina '05  |  Rita '05  |  Wilma '05  |  Sandy '12  |  Haiyan '13
Harvey '17  |  Irma '17  |  Maria '17