Do all weather satellites follow the same orbit?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

No. Some U.S. weather satellites are polar orbiting, maintaining north-south orbits between the north and south poles. They complete this orbit about 14 times a day. The satellites that capture the images you see on TV every day are called Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). These satellites maintain a fixed position above certain points on the globe, so that their sensors are always trained on the same portion of the earth's surface. In this way, they can repeatedly gather images from the same area, and those images can later be played back in sequence, like a movie. Consequently, the development and movement of clouds and storms can be easily monitored.

Satellites don't last forever and are replaced periodically, with each new satellite carrying more and more sophisticated sensors. One reason weather forecasting has improved and continues to improve is because of advances in weather satellite technology.

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