Television and Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS) A series of NASA and NOAA satellites launched to monitor Earth's weather from outer space. The era of the meteorological satellites began with the launch of TIROS-1 on April 1, 1960. For the first time, it was possible to monitor weather conditions over most of the world regularly from space. A series of these satellites were launched throughout the 1960s, those funded by NASA for research and development were called TIROS, and those funded by the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA, the predecessor of NOAA) for the operational system were called ESSA.
A second generation of ITOS/NOAA* environmental satellites was initiated by the launch of ITOS-1 in 1970, followed by a number of NOAA satellites. The third generation of TIROS-N/NOAA environmental satellites was initiated by the launch of TIROS-N in 1978.
* Pairs of acronyms such as ITOS/NOAA arise because NASA funds and names its prototype satellites and then the operating agency funds and names the rest of the series.