The data from meteorological satellites have provided the research community and the operational user during the past decade with global visible and infrared measurements which have served as valuable inputs for the better understanding of the earth–atmosphere system. Early in the meteorological satellite program, the instrumentation largely consisted of vidicon imaging devices and low spatial resolution scanning radiometers. In contrast, current devices being flown on meteorological spacecraft include high spatial resolution scanning radiometers, spectrometers, and high signal-to-noise ratio imaging systems. This array of instrumentation, flown on twenty-eight spacecraft, has permitted the researcher and operational user to (1) remotely measure surface temperatures, (2) deduce the vertical profiles of temperature, water vapor, and ozone, (3) ascertain atmospheric kinematics from cloud motions, cloud characteristics, and circulation patterns, (4) detect and track cyclones and local storms, (5) calculate the heat balance of the earth–atmosphere system, (6) determine the nature and distribution of cloud cover, and (7) remotely detect natural resource boundaries and characteristics.
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