In the mid-1960s, Dr. Verner E. Suomi, working with Robert J. Parent, invented the Spin-Scan Cloud Camera. This instrument was the payload of the Applications Technology Satellite series (ATS-I and ATS-III) launched in 1966 and 1967, respectively. Launch of the ATS-I into geosynchronous Earth orbit pioneered continuous viewing of weather from space. The ability to obtain continuous satellite imagery of a fixed point on the earth, at 20-minute intervals, allowed scientists to study a synoptic picture of existing meteorological conditions for the first time.
The sequential pictures provided animation of cloud movements and a breakthrough in visualizing and comprehending atmospheric circulation. These sequential photographs led to immense improvements in the ability to measure and track cloud and air motion, cloud heights, rainfall, severe weather, pollution and natural disasters.