Satellite Coverage of Polar Regions



North Polar Region

CAPTION: This is a polar stereographic presentation of the north polar region, showing a single pass by a polar orbiting satellite (NOAA-11 in this example). The satellite doesn't pass directly over the pole due to the slight inclination of the orbital plane. The transparent overlay identifies the 3000 km wide swath that is viewed by the AVHRR imaging instrument on the satellite. The yellow curves delineate the limits of the 60 degree viewing arcs from the six "standard" geostationary satellites included in these discussions. Sixty degrees is a conservative limit for quantitatively useful data from a geostationary satellite. The newer GOES-8 and GOES-9 satellites are can be used to a limit of perhaps seventy degrees from nadir.


CAPTION: This is a polar stereographic presentation of the north polar region, showing the tracks of seven consecutive overpasses by a polar orbiting satellite. This shows the considerable degree of overlap between consecutive orbits. The orbital period is slightly greater than 100 minutes, with just over 14 orbits in a day. These seven passes thus represent only about half of the daily passes over the north pole.



South Polar Region

CAPTION: This is a polar stereographic presentation of the south polar region, showing a single pass by a polar orbiting satellite (NOAA-11 in this example). This pass is a continuation of the pass over the north pole show above. Note that the satellite doesn't pass directly over the pole, but rather is offset about 10 degrees. The transparent overlay identifies the 3000 km wide swath that is viewed by the AVHRR imaging instrument on the satellite. The yellow curves delineate the limits of the 60 degree viewing arcs from the six "standard" geostationary satellites included in these discussions. Sixty degrees is a conservative limit for quantitatively useful data from a geostationary satellite. Interestingly, the continent of Antarctica is entirely south of 60 degrees latitude.


CAPTION: This is a polar stereographic presentation of the north polar region, showing the tracks of seven consecutive overpasses by a polar orbiting satellite. This shows the considerable degree of overlap between consecutive orbits. The orbital period is slightly greater than 100 minutes, with just over 14 orbits in a day. These seven passes thus represent only about half of the daily passes over the south pole.



Return to Satellite Coverage and Orbits

Return to NCAR/MMM Satellite Page


last updated, 6/04/96