National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
 US CONUS Satellite Imagery

Centered on the TN Valley

Centered on the TN Valley

Centered on the Eastern Atlantic

Centered on the Eastern Atlantic

Centered on the Eastern Atlantic

Centered on the SE U.S.

Centered on the SE U.S.

Centered on the SE U.S.
 

Centered on the Gulf of Mexico

Centered on the Gulf of Mexico

Centered on the Gulf of Mexico

Centered on the Midwest U.S.

Centered on the Midwest U.S.

Centered on the Midwest U.S.

Mid-Atlantic U.S.

Mid-Atlantic U.S.

Mid-Atlantic U.S.
Tropical Imagery (Atlantic)

Tropical Atlantic

Tropical Atlantic

Tropical Atlantic

Centered near Puerto Rico

Centered near Puerto Rico

Centered near Puerto Rico
 
Visible Imagery Single Image Animation
Centered over Birmingham (GOES East) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Continental U.S. (GOES East/West Composite) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Western U.S.  (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Northeast Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Eastern Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Hawaii (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Infrared Imagery Single Image Animation
Centered over Birmingham (GOES East) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Continental U.S. (GOES East/West Composite) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Western U.S.  (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Northeast Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Eastern Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Hawaii (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Water Vapor Imagery Single Image Animation
Continental U.S. (GOES East/West Composite) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Western U.S.  (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Northeast Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Eastern Pacific (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Hawaii (GOES West) Click for Satellite Image Click for Satellite Loop
Additional Links
NASA ~ Marshall Space Flight Center
NESDIS ~ Geostationary Satellite Server
NESDIS ~ Satellite Services Division
NESDIS ~ Operations Product Development Branch
NWS ~ Aviation Weather Center
RAMSDIS
UCAR Satellite
United States Naval Research Laboratory ~ Satellite Products
University of Wisconsin - Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
 

POES - Polar Orbiting Satellites

Polar-orbiters were the first type of weather satellite, with TIROS1 launching on April 1, 1960. They make approximately 14 orbits daily, covering a further west section of earth with each orbit as the earth rotates beneath them. Their low altitude of around 500 miles allows high resolution images while the near-polar orbit allows global coverage without the distortion over northern latitudes that geo-stationary satellites suffer from. However the pictures are delayed real-time and there are only a couple of passes per satellite per day over any given spot.NOAA uses data from its satellites, along with those of its partners, to generate your weather forecast each day. These satellites fall into two different orbit types—those that orbit around Earth (polar-orbiting) and those that stay focused on one region of Earth (geostationary). Below is a depiction of the orbit of a Polar Orbiting Satellite.
 
The Polar satellites (U.S. Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites and Eumetsat) are used for more than just sensing cloud cover or how cold/high cloud tops are (colder cloud tops indicate strong or severe convection). These uses include: space weather (sensing changes in solar radiation), search and rescue support, and take environmental observations.
 
 

GOES - Geostationary Satellites

NOAA uses data from its satellites, along with those of its partners, to generate your weather forecast each day. These satellites fall into two different orbit types—those that orbit around Earth (polar-orbiting) and those that stay focused on one region of Earth (geostationary). 
 

The GOES satellite senses electromagnetic energy at five different wavelengths and is a geostationary satellite. There are two wavelengths most commonly shown on weather broadcasts: Infrared and Visible. The image below shows the orbit of this type of satellite.

Infrared

GOES satellites are used for more than just sensing cloud cover or how cold/high cloud tops are (colder cloud tops indicate strong or severe convection). These uses include: space weather (sensing changes in solar radiation), search and rescue support, and take environmental observations.

In the infrared (IR) channel, the satellite senses energy as heat. The earth’s surface absorbs about half of the incoming solar energy. Clouds and the atmosphere absorb a much smaller amount. The earth’s surface, clouds, and the atmosphere then re-emit part of this absorbed solar energy as heat. The infrared channel senses this re-emitted radiation. A major advantage of the IR channel is that it can sense energy at night, so this imagery is available 24 hours a day. This is a disadvantage of the visible channel, which requires daylight and cannot "see" after dark.

 
Example IR image Example IR image
Raw Infrared Imagery Enhanced Infrated Imagery
 

Enhanced Infrared Imagery

IR images are often colorized to bring out details in cloud patterns. Depending on the type of enhancement, the colors are used to signify certain aspects of the data, such as cloud-top heights. This is important because taller clouds correlate with more active weather and can be used to assist in forecasting.

 

 

Visible Imagery

Visible satellite images, which look like black and white photographs, are derived from the satellite signals. Clouds usually appear white, while land and water surfaces appear in shades of gray or black.

The visible channel senses reflected solar radiation. Clouds, the earth's atmosphere, and the earth's surface all absorb and reflect incoming solar radiation. Since visible imagery is produced by reflected sunlight (radiation), it is only available during daylight.

One of the major advantages of visible imagery is that it has a higher resolution (about 0.6 miles) than IR images (about 2.5 miles), so you can distinguish smaller features with VIS imagery.

Example IR image

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