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Name: Claire K.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001


Question:
How many weather satellites are orbiting the earth? December 2001.


Replies:
There are several different kinds of weather satellites, and even other types of satellites can make specialized weather observations.

Some weather satellites are in a standby mode; that is, they are in orbit, in "storage," to be used in case some of the other satellites fail or malfunction.

At the present time, the United States operates 2 GOES (geostationary) satellites, (GOES-8 and GOES-10), with two in standby (orbiting, but not turned on, (Goes-9, and GOES-11)). The U.S. also operates 3 polar-orbiting satellites,(NOAA-14, NOAA-15, and NOAA-16) with one polar-orbiter in standby (NOAA-12).

So, one answer to your question is: the U.S. has 5 operational weather satellites.

But, other countries also have weather satellites, the European countries have a series of satellites called "Meteosat," and the Japanese, Russian, and Indian governments also operate weather satellites. The U.S. military forces also operate weather satellites. So there are many more than 5 weather satellites in orbit at the present time.

Claire, an excellent link describing our weather satellites that you would enjoy is:

http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov:8080/EBB/ml/genlsatl.html

There you can find out about the different kinds of weather observations satellites make, and the history of weather satellites, when the first one was launched, etc., and other kinds of satellites that can make weather observations.

Good luck on your learning about weather satellites. I believe you will find your search and investigation to be very interesting..!

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


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