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Nimbus 1 HRIR heritage data set archived at the NASA GES DISC

The High Resolution Infrared Radiometer, first launched in 1964, measured the Earth's cloud cover, as well as the temperatures of cloud tops and the Earth’s surface

Nimbus 1 HRIR heritage data set archived at the NASA GES DISC

Nimbus-1 High Resolution Infrared Radiometer (HRIR) thermal radiation image of Europe and the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas. Image courtesy of 'The Remote Sensing Tutorial' by Nicholas Short.

Nimbus 1 HRIR heritage data set archived at the NASA GES DISC


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) has recently completed the archival process for the historical High-Resolution Infrared Radiometer (HRIR) data set from the Nimbus-1 satellite. The Nimbus series of satellites was the second-generation of meteorological research and development (R&D) spacecraft designed for the testing of advanced systems to sense and collect atmospheric science data. The Nimbus missions proved that many different kinds of observations could be made from space, setting the stage for subsequent, more advanced satellite sensors.
The HRIR on Nimbus 1 was operational for only about a month, from August 28, 1964 to September 22, 1964. The HRIR observations were intended to do two things: (1) map Earth's cloud cover at night and (2) measure the temperature of cloud tops and terrain features. HRIR, which also orbited on the Nimbus 2 and Nimbus 3 satellites, was the precursor to more advanced sensors making measurements in the infrared bands, such as the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and the TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS).
The HRIR data, originally archived on 7-track magnetic tapes stored at the Washington National Records Center, were transferred to digital files on magnetic hard disks. This process required reading the original data format on the tapes and converting the data to a new format called Tape Emulation Format, or TAP. The restoration process was successful for 123 of the 124 observational orbits. The NASA GES DISC is archiving data from many of the Nimbus instruments, as described in this previous news article: “NASA releases recovered film data from Nimbus missions.”
                The data access page for Nimbus heritage data sets is here:
                More information about the Nimbus-1 HRIR is provided at
                A Nimbus-1 HRIR Data Set README document is available at
                The HRIR data set User’s Guide (1966) is available at the link below:



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Last updated: May 02, 2013 01:32 PM ET