Satellite Meteorology

Human beings have no doubt always had a fascination with and a practical interest in the weather. Meteorological phenomena were a major subject of speculation in the philosophical works of classical antiquity, but scientific study of the weather is generally dated from the invention of the thermometer and barometer in the seventeenth century.

There were sporadic attempts to plot weather maps from surface observations in the eighteenth century. The invention of the telegraph in the nineteenth century opened the prospect of producing and disseminating real-time forecasts using data gathered over a large geographical area. Government-sponsored observing networks were begun in several countries in the mid- and late nineteenth century.

The nineteenth century also saw important developments in basic fluid dynamics and thermodynamics, which put the study of the atmosphere on a firm basis as a problem in applied physics. In recent decades, spectacular advances have been made in both observational and theoretical studies of the atmosphere. Such progress has been greatly facilitated by the availability of satellite platforms for atmospheric observing systems and the development of digital computers for the non-linear governing equations.

A meteorological satellite application course is a specific component of space science and technology education. It is important because, while meteorological satellites have operated in space for over three decades, the majority of the world’s scientific, professional and educational communities are unaware that observations from those satellites are freely accessible and that they can be applied directly or combined with other information to benefit large segments of a country’s population or to help resolve specific problems affecting those populations, especially where the saving of lives, the protection of property or the responsible management of natural resources may be involved.

The Curriculum can be downloaded here.