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There are two main types of weather satellite used by NOAA's National Weather Service.

Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES)
Geosynchronous Observation Environment Satellites (GOES)
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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.
The first operational geosynchronous weather satellite, the SMS1, was launched on May 17, 1974. Geo-stationary satellites circle the earth in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit at the same speed as the earth's rotation. This allows them to "hover" over one spot on the surface. Their higher altitude of 22,300 miles allows a continuous full-disc view of the earth, but at a lower resolution than polar-orbiting satellites. Since the satellite is centered over the equator, there is also significant distortion over northern latitudes.
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