This Web museum is dedicated to works of Dr. Verner Suomi, the father of the geostationary satellite, and to the practical ramifications of his work to the geosciences.  Professor Suomi's research and inventions have led to many scientific breakthroughs in our understanding of the Earth's energy budget, as well as new techniques for indirect measurements that are widely used across many disciplines.

The era of satellite weather studies, or satellite meteorology, began on October 13, 1959, when Explorer 7 was launched. On board the Explorer 7 satellite was an instrument that measured the radiation budget of Earth. Knowledge of the earth's radiation budget is required to fully understand climate and make long term weather predictions, a point emphasized in this chapter. Observations from this instrument, developed by Professor Verner Suomi, established that the energy budget of the planet varies markedly due to the effect of clouds and other absorbing constituents. Professor Suomi and his students also discovered that the earth absorbed more of the sun's energy than originally thought.

Dr. Suomi also invented the "spin-scan camera," an instrument that made it possible to continuously observe the same area of the Earth. The principles of the spin-scan camera formed the foundation for the satellite imagery that you see every night on weather reports. These images are taken from a satellite that orbits the earth around the equator at the same speed at which the Earth spins. Therefore, the satellite remains over the same location and can continually monitor the weather of that portion of the globe. Because the satellite appears stationary with respect to a fixed point on the earth, it is called a geostationary satellite. While viewing images from a geostationary satellite is routine today, the invention of the spin-scan camera marked a transition from using satellites to conduct research to making satellite-based observations an integral part of weather forecasting.

Here are some suggestions to learn more about him:

The Verner E. Suomi Virtual Museum development funded in part by the National Science Foundation Grant #EAR9809458.  Material presented is Copyrighted (C) 1999 by Steve Ackerman and Tom Whittaker.  If you have questions or comments, please let us know!