The first Tiros (Television infrared Observational Satellite) began observations on April 1, 1960, that have figured prominently in meteorological progress ever since. It transmitted 22 592 pictures to Earth during its 1302 revolutions. The mosaic at the right illustrates the way many of those pictures were assembled and used.
From the very first, says MORRIS TEPPER, Deputy Director, Space Applications Program, NASA, "pictures taken by the Tiros satellites showed that the Earth's cloud cover was highly organized on a global scale. Coherent cloud systems were found to extend over thousands of miles and were related to other systems of similar dimensions. Moreover, it was soon readily apparent that these cloud patterns were in fact 'signatures' of weather systems.
"The upper portion of the figure is a mosaic of overlapping video pictures taken by Tiros I on May 19 and 20, 1960. Below it is the associated weather map showing three active storm systems: from left to right, a very intense one in the North Pacific, one on the west coast of the United States, and one in the Midwest. The cloud structure as seen by Tiros has been superimposed on the weather map. It is remarkable how closely the cloud systems delineate the weather systems. It is as if Nature were actually drawing her own weather map directly onto the Earth."
Many more such mosaics were produced as the Tiros flights continued. The most significant milestone passed in these flights, says ROBERT M. RADOS, NASA's Tiros Project Manager, was "to demonstrate the feasibility of an operational meteorological satellite system and its application to regular worldwide weather analysis and forecasts, aimed toward increasing man's ability to understand and cope with his physical environment."