This is the first television picture of Earth from space, captured by NASA’s TIROS-1 satellite on April 1, 1960.

The first television picture of Earth from space
This is the first television picture of Earth from space; it was captured on April 1, 1960, by NASA’s TIROS 1 satellite. Image credit: NASA


The Television InfraRed Observational Satellite (TIROS) 1 was the first weather satellite, the first of a series of Television Infrared Observation Satellites placed in low-Earth orbit.

It was the first experimental step of NASA to determine if satellites could be useful in the study of the Earth.

Launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 17A on April 1, 1960, at 11:40:09 UTC by a Thor Able II rocket, TIROS-1 performed normally until June 15, 1960, when an electrical power failure prevented further useful TV transmission.

It was equipped with two TV cameras, and was operational for only 78 days but demonstrated the feasibility of monitoring planet Earth’s cloud cover and weather patterns from space.

TIROS satellites eventually began continuous coverage in 1962 and enabled accurate worldwide weather forecasts and alerts. This image is the first TIROS TV image, taken from an altitude of about 700 kilometers (435 miles).

Crude by contemporary standards, the satellite represents the beginning of what is still one of the most important continuing applications of space technology.


M. Özgür Nevres

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