Weather Satellite Census
Name: Claire K.
How many weather satellites are orbiting the
earth? December 2001.
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
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
So, one answer to your question is: the U.S. has 5 operational weather
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
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
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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Update: June 2012