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Dual Vidicon Cameras

NSSDCA ID: 1970-047A-01

Mission Name: Meteor 1-5
Principal Investigator:


The Meteor 1 dual vidicon camera system provided daytime pictures of the earth's cloudcover distribution, local storms, and near-global weather systems for operational use by the Soviet Hydrometeorological Service. The instrumentation consisted of two identical vidicon cameras that were mounted in the satellite base and were directed toward the earth. Each camera viewed a 500- by 500-km area -- one to the left and the other to the right of nadir -- with a resolution of 1.25 km at nadir from a satellite altitude of 600 to 700 km. The cameras took a one-frame image of the earth's cloud cover with slight overlapping of successive frames to provide continuous coverage. The cameras switched on automatically any time the sun was more than 5 deg above the horizon. Because the earth illumination varied so much, automatic sensors adjusted the camera apertures to produce high-quality pictures under a variety of illumination conditions. The image formed by each vidicon tube either was transmitted directly to the ground if the satellite was in radio contact with one of the ground stations or was recorded on magnetic tape for later transmission if the satellite was beyond the zone of radio communication. The TV images received by these ground stations were processed and transmitted ot the Hydrometeorological Center in Moscow where they were analyzed and used in various forecast and analysis products. The pictures were archived at the Hydrometeorological Center. Although the Meteor 1 cameras had about four times the resolution at nadir of those carried on the ESSA satellites, they could not provide continuous overlapping global coverage as do the ESSA cameras owing to the lower orbit of the Meteor 1 satellite (854 km compared to 1400 km). Thus, to close the gaps in coverage, at least two Meteor satellites were required in the weather satellite system. In addition, cloudcover mosaics were produced from 10 or more individual cloudcover pictures at the Hydrometeorological Center to provide a more comprehensive view of near-global weather systems. Some of the individual pictures and the cloud mosaics were transmitted to various foreign meteorological centers as part of an international meteorological data exchange program. The United States received these pictures at the National Environmental Satellite Service (NESS) in Suitland, Maryland, via the 'cold line' facsimile link with Moscow. Pictures were transmitted to NESS from July 1, 1970, to September 19, 1971, when, it is believed, the experiment operations ceased. These pictures were kept at NESS for 1 yr and then, unless of unusual interest, were discarded.

Alternate Names

  • Meteor1-5/DualVidiconCameras

Funding Agency

  • Soviet Hydrometeorological Service (U.S.S.R)


  • Earth Science: Atmospheric Dynamics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Principal InvestigatorSoviet Hydrometeorological Service
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