Weather Satellites

This page provides information for meteorological imaging satellites, specifically for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Automatic Picture Taking (APT) satellites. These satellites are in polar orbits with North-to-South or South-to-North passes.

The table below has General Catalog Data and Frequency Information for the Satellites. More detailed information can be found on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web Page.


NOAA-15 Image

Image Information

Date:

1999-AUG-29

Time:

13:45 UTC

Satellite:

NOAA-15

Pass Type:

North-to-South

Captured by:

K.Ernandes

Features:

Central North America from Hudson Bay to Gulf of Mexico. Great Lakes, Florida, and Hurricane Dennis are all clearly visible.

LEO Weather Satellite Information

The Catalog data provides general information about the satellite. This information is very useful for finding the satellite's Keplerian elements. The three common ways of identifying a satellite are by its: (1) Name or ID, (2) 5-digit Catalog Number, or (3) International Designator. The 5-digit catalog is assigned by NORAD/Space Command sequentially; each satellite has a unique number. The International Designator provides the launch year, followed by the sequential launch number for that year, and a piece identifier. The primary piece from a launch (first spacecraft) is traditionally piece "A" and so forth. (The letters "I" and "O" are not used for piece identifiers.) All payloads are assigned piece identifiers before spent upper stages and other launch debris are assigned identifiers. The piece identifier may be as long as three letters.

Satellite ID

Catalog #

Int. Des.

Frequency MHz

Orbit Type

NOAA-16

26536

00-053A

137.620 FM

LEO, Sun-Sync.

NOAA-15

25338

98-030A

137.500 FM

LEO, Sun-Sync.

NOAA-12

21263

91-032A

137.500 FM

LEO, Sun-Sync.

NOAA-14

23455

94-089A

137.620 FM

LEO, Sun-Sync

METEOR 2-21

22782

93-055A

137.400 FM

LEO, Circular

METEOR 3-5

21655

91-056A

137.300 FM

LEO, Circular

OKEAN O

25860

99-039A

137.400 FM

LEO, Circular

RESURS 01-N4

25934

98-043A

137.850 FM

LEO, Circular

SICH-1

23657

95-046A

137.400 FM

LEO, Circular

The APT weather facsimile (WEFAX) images can be decoded using specialized weather satellite equipment. An inexpensive alternative is published by Eugune Ruperto in the August 1997 edition of QST magazine (pp. 36-39) titled: An Easy Way to Copy the Weather Satellites. This involves decoding the WEFAX information through a Soundblaster® compatible sound card on a computer. The audio from a radio tuned to the appropriate frequency is input to the Line-in or Microphone jack on the sound card. The WEFAX imagery is then decoded by a freeware program called WXSat, written by Christian Block. This software can be downloaded from Eugune Ruperto's Web page.

Eugene Ruperto also published an excellent article in the August 1996 edition of QST magazine (pp. 30-34) titled: The W3KH Quadrifilar Helix Antenna. This article provides detailed instructions to construct this antenna which is excellent for LEO weather satellite reception.

The Remote Imaging Group Web site and the Dallas Remote Imaging Group Web site are other excellent source of weather satellite information.

QST magazine is the Official Journal of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). ARRL publications are available by mail: Pub Sales Dept, ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT, 06111-1494. Orders can also be made toll free at 860-594-0303 (TEL) or 888-277-5289 (FAX). Orders may also be placed by E-mail at pubsales@arrl.org or on the ARRL Web page.

Top

Automatic Picture Taking (APT) satellites give you real time weather images -- as the satellite flies overhead

You can get these pictures on your computer by feeding the audio from an FM receiver into a Soundblaster compatible audio card

Special weather satellite software -- see below -- can turn the sound from your radio into a weather picture