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NOAA Satellites
The legacy of NOAA's satellites

For more than 50 years, NOAA weather satellites have provided U.S. citizens and global partners with advance warning of extreme weather and natural disasters. Satellites are vital for the weather forecasts NOAA provides to the American public-at-large, including emergency managers and first responders, farmers and the agricultural community, the aviation industry, decision makers and political leaders, coastal residents and maritime transportation. The frequency and severity of extreme weather events, like Hurricane Sandy, serve as a reminder of the importance to maintain all the critical tools necessary for accurate weather forecasting, including key observations provided by satellites.

NOAA satellites are critical to the Nation’s infrastructure and economy. Polar satellites provide critical weather forecasting for the $700 billion maritime commerce sector and offer a value of hundreds of millions of dollars for the fishing industry. NOAA satellites can also observe volcanic eruptions and track the movement of ash clouds—at a value of $100 to $200 million to the aviation industry.

NOAA operates satellites in two complementary orbits: Geostationary satellites, which constantly monitor a fixed area on the Earth from a perch over 22,300 miles above the Earth; and Polar-Orbiting satellites, which circle the Earth around 500 miles above the surface providing information and observations over the entire Earth - land, ocean and atmosphere, from pole- to- pole. Polar satellites are able to see the weather as it takes shape around the globe, while typical geostationary weather satellites, like GOES, see the weather within their limited domain.

For more information about NOAA Satellites, visit NESDIS NOAA Satellite Legacy [PDF]. To learn more about NOAA's satellite programs, visit NESDIS Satellite Information page.