Meteorological satellites: we know if it will be rainy or sunny thanks to a satellite

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Meteorological satellites: we know if it will be rainy…

Checking the forecast on your mobile phone to find out if the weather will be OK tomorrow is something we all commonly do nowadays, but not so long ago humans relied on the shape of the clouds, the direction of the wind, the aspect of the sun, the Moon or even animal behaviour. Useful inventions appeared four centuries ago, such as the thermometer, the anemometer, and the barometer. However, not until mid-20th century we were able to observe our atmosphere globally, thanks to the launching of several meteorological satellites. One of them was the renowned Meteosat, manufactured in Europe and used by the meteorological services of several European countries to make weather forecasts.

In 1977, the first Meteosat satellite was launched. It would be followed by many others, each of them more advanced than the last. At the time, some meteorological satellites already orbited the Earth. For instance, TIROS-1 was sent into space in 1960 and orbited for 78 days. Many more came later. These, along the supercomputers that process atmospheric data, were and remain the basic tool for effective weather forecasting.

In all, Europeans have launched several meteorological satellites into orbit, which have been operated by the EUMETSAT organization as of 1995. As you can imagine, after the years, these have continuously improved in monitoring and forecasting the weather. They do so in such detail that adverse weather can now be forecast just hours ahead. For example, weather services may send fog alerts to airports at the right time, something unthinkable not so long ago.