weather satellite, artificial satellite used to gather data on a global basis for improvement of weather forecasting. Information includes cloud cover, storm location, temperature, and heat balance in the earth's atmosphere. The first weather satellites in the United States were those of the Tiros series, which began in 1960; the Nimbus series, which moved in a polar orbit, was next; the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) started in 1966 and launched weather satellites; and in 1972, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) provided photographs to help forecasting. Other meteorological satellites include a series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which send weather data and pictures that cover a section of the United States; China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency (ESA) have similar craft. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite series relay meteorological data to stations on the surface, including information on possible changes in various weather parameters that may signal climate change.
See R. Taggart, Weather Satellite Handbook (5th ed. 1995); S. Q. Kidder et al., Satellite Meteorology: An Introduction (1995).