The first man-made satellite used to monitor weather conditions was the Television and Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS I), which was launched by NASA on April 1, 1960. While the photographs taken were not of the high-resolution standards we see today, they were the first to reveal just how clouds and storms can be remarkably well organized, a fact that surprised meteorologists at the time. TIROS I’s other groundbreaking accomplishment was to spot a previously undetected tropical storm near Australia nine days after its launch. Australians along that country’s east coast were thus the first people, thanks to modern technology, to get a heads up that a strong storm was approaching.
A circa 1961 illustration of TIROS I shows its various components. (NOAA).