Weather Satellites and Orbits


Satellite Orbits

A satellite is an object that orbits a larger object, such as a planet. The earth's moon is an example of a natural satellite; weather satellites are the result of human ingenuity.

There are two main types of weather satellites, defined by their orbital characteristics: Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). Most satellite images seen on the local television news or The Weather Channel are produced by GOES satellites.

GOES Satellites orbit the earth above the equator at the same speed as the earth rotates so they can transmit a continuous picture of the region below. POES orbits are significantly lower and shorter, taking about 100 minutes to travel from pole to pole and produce high resolution "snapshots" of the Earth.

Satellite Orbits