...a part of the International Weather Satellite Images.
Geostationary satellites are called geostationary because they are in orbits so that they go around the Earth at the same rate at which the Earth rotates on its axis, so that they stay in the same position relative to the earth. Because of this, certain areas of the world are better covered by the geostationary satellites than others, and polar areas are always covered poorly. They orbit the earth at an altitude of about 35,785 km (22,235 mi.) above the equator (almost three times the diameter of the earth), and therefore can "see" almost (not quite) half of the sphere of the Earth from their position.
The geostationary satellites take images over a period of a few minutes (up to 26 minutes for a GOES-8 full earth scan) to scan the earth line by line. The older satellites (GOES-7 and older, GMS to present, METEOSAT to present) did so as they spin at 100 times per minute. The newer satellites (GOES-NEXT series, which is GOES-8 onward), as well as some older satellites (INSAT, GOMS) are three-axis stabilized (stabilized on all three 3-D axes relative to the Earth) satellites, which do not spin.
Sources for information above and Other Information:
The following are the major geostationary satellites:
|Satellite program||Current Satellite||Longitude||Country||Operational Agency||Launch Agency||View||Comment|
|METEOSAT||METEOSAT-7||0°||International||EUMETSAT||ESA||Eastern Atlantic, Europe, Africa||High resolution images encoded|
|INDOEX||METEOSAT-5||63°E||International||EUMETSAT||ESA||Asia, Indian Ocean, Africa||High resolution images encoded|
|GOMS||GOMS-1 (ELEKTRO)||76°E||Russia||Asia, Indian Ocean, Eastern Africa||Images intermittent|
|INSAT||INSAT-3(?)||90°E (?)||India||Asia, Indian Ocean||All images encoded|
|Feng-Yun||Feng-Yun-2B||105°E||China||Asia, Indian Ocean, Australia||Satellite Failed|
|GMS||GMS-5||140°E||Japan||East Asia, Western Pacific, Australia|
|GOES (WEST)||GOES-10||135°W||U.S.A.||NOAA||NASA||Eastern Pacific, North America|
|GOES (EAST)||GOES-8||75°W||U.S.A.||NOAA||NASA||North and South America, Western Atlantic|
The NOAA satellites are the American polar orbiting satellites. These satellites are much closer to the earth than the geostationaries and move over different points on the earth. Other countries have polar orbiters as well, but less data are available from those satellites.
The polar orbiters orbit the earth much lower than the geostationary satellites. Because of this, they do not capture as much area at once when they are recording images of the Earth. As they travel along their path, they take a swath image, meaning they take are imaging only the points on the perpendicular to their path of travel. There is considerable distortion at the "horizon" at the edge of this perpendicular plane. As they move over the earth, they continue to take these images, and they combine to form an image which is considerably longer than it is wide, and has distortion at the sides (compacting). The two ends of this image were taken at two different times (and all of the lines in the middle taken between the two times). As they travel, they transmit the data that they are collecting to receiving stations on the Earth at a certain freqency. Information on receiving these images is available at the Polar Orbital Weather Satellite Pictures Homepage.
Most polar orbiter sites are sites that are associated with receivers that receive the images that were taken over the area near the site. Two sites, though, have all the images that were taken by the satellites: the SAA and DMSP.
A good reference for interpretation of imagery in mid latitudes is: Images in Weather Forecasting, edited by M.J. Bader, G.S. Forbes, J.R. Grant, R.B.E. Lilley, and A.J. Waters. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995.
I don't know very much about receiving satellite images. All I can offer, really, are the few pointers to better information listed below. I may, at some point, read them, and write some sort of a summary here.
Note: I know nothing about the quality of the services offered by the companies to which I link here. I merely know of their existence. If you are interested in purchasing their products it is up to you to investigate those I list here and search for others.
When images aren't available in online archives, a last resort is to order from the appropriate agency. I know very little about this (and have never done it), but I provide some links here for those who wish to explore.
Dennis Chesters's GOES Data on the Internet - A Tutorial has more detailed information about images formats than I do, along with some other interesting information.