NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header




The primary objective of the NOAA 1 sun-synchronous meteorological satellite was to provide improved operational infrared and visual observations of earth cloud cover for use in weather analysis and forecasting. Secondary objectives included providing solar proton and global heat balance data on a regular daily basis. To accomplish these tasks, the spacecraft carried four cameras -- two television cameras for Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) and two Advanced Vidicon Camera System (AVCS) cameras. The satellite also carried a low-resolution flat plate radiometer, a solar proton monitor, and two scanning radiometers that not only measured emitted IR radiation but also served as a backup system for the APT and AVCS cameras. The nearly cubical spacecraft measured 1 by 1 by 1.2 m. The TV cameras and infrared sensors were mounted on the satellite baseplate with their optical axes directed vertically earthward. The spacecraft was equipped with three curved solar panels that were folded during launch and deployed after orbit was achieved. Each panel measured over 4.2 m in length when unfolded and was covered with 3420 solar cells, each measuring 2 by 2 cm. The NOAA 1 attitude control system maintained desired spacecraft orientation through gyroscopic principles incorporated into the satellite design. Earth orientation of the satellite body was maintained by taking advantage of the presession induced from a momentum flywheel so that the satellite body presession rate of one revolution per orbit provided the desired 'earth looking' attitude. Minor adjustments in attitude and orientation were made by means of magnetic coils and by varying the speed of the momentum flywheel. Launched into a near-polar orbit, the spacecraft and its subsystems performed normally until May 29, 1971 when the incremental tape recorder failed, resulting in partial loss of solar proton data and total loss of flat plate radiometer data. The APT and Direct Readout InfraRed (DRIR) subsystems were turned off on June 20, 1971 in an attempt to reduce the above normal temperature due to overheating in the attitude control system. The AVCS was turned off shortly thereafter, and the scanning radiometer continued partial operations until the spacecraft was deactivated on August 19, 1971.

Alternate Names

  • 04793
  • ITOS-A
  • NOAA1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1970-12-11
Launch Vehicle: Delta
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 306 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)


  • Space Physics
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. William H. JonesProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight
Mr. Isidore L. GoldbergProject ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Mr. Charles M. HunterGeneral ContactNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
[] NASA Logo -