Livescience's Satellite spies gigantic 'fuzzball' clouds spreading near Australia coast says:

Actinoform clouds were first captured by NASA’s Television Infrared Observation Satellite V in 1962, but not much is known about how they form; previously, scientists saw a link between actinoform cloud formation and the use of aerosols, according to the observatory. But in this case, the clouds over Australia were found to be so far from land that it's difficult to point to aerosols as the cause, Garay said.

quoting "Michael Garay, a cloud researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory".

This refers to the Television Infrared Observation Satellite(s) and that article says:

The satellite itself was stabilized in its orbit by spinning like a gyroscope. When it first separated from the rocket's third stage, it was spinning at about 136 revolutions per minute (rpm). To take unblurred photographs, a de-spin mechanism slowed the satellite down to 12 rpm after the orbit was accomplished.

The camera shutters made possible the series of still pictures which were stored and transmitted back to earth via 2-watt FM transmitters as the satellite approached one of its ground command points. After transmission, the tape was erased or cleaned and readied for more recording.

Question: How were video tape recorders adapted to work in orbit in 1962? What exactly was the tape recording device and format mentioned here?



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    $\begingroup$ I think tape recorders of 1962 to be used in satellites were able for very slow scan video only. The very first video tape recorders for home use were sold in 1965. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Feb 13 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ VTRs existed back to the early 50s, though obviously in crude form. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_tape_recorder $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 13 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JCRM thanks, but If you'd like to post material that tends to answer the question, it would go in an answer post, not the question itself. SE works when people stick to norms and rules. If everyone stack exchanged their own way it would end up looking like the rest of the internet. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 14 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome it's the successful deployment of a reliable video tape recorder in a spacecraft launched in April of 1960 that surprised me, not live video transmissions. And my reaction is one of surprise, not veracity-doubting. The goal of a Stack Exchange question is to generate a good Stack Exchange answer, and RB has done so. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 14 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I really like the new title, its better by far! $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Feb 14 at 8:39

Were there really video tape recorders orbiting the Earth in 1962?

Yes! The first was launched in 1960 only two and a half years after Sputnik-1.

There were video reel-to-reel tape recorders in the 1960's, even for home or educational use in schools, but they did suffer from degradation and occasional tape-eating if the mechanism was not carefully and smoothly actuated.

1965. The Sony TCV-2020. The worlds 1st domestic video recorder.

above: "1965. The Sony TCV-2020. The worlds 1st domestic video recorder." One of many examples at rewindmuseum.com's page for Black & White Reel to Reel (open reel) Video Recorders.

The video TIROS-1: The Forecast Revolution Begins and screen shots from it below show the two vidicon cameras and the video tape recorder designed to work in orbit.

April 1, 1960: the world's first experimental weather satellite, TIROS-1, was launched. Within three months, TIROS-1 generated over 23,000 images of earth and its atmosphere, providing an unprecedented perspective from above and revolutionizing weather forecasting. This is an historical overview of TIROS-1 and its legacy and, ultimately, the birth of remote earth observation as we know it today.

click for full size

TIROS-1: The Forecast Revolution Begins TIROS-1: The Forecast Revolution Begins

TIROS-1: The Forecast Revolution Begins TIROS-1: The Forecast Revolution Begins

  • $\begingroup$ -1 this answer is far less useful than the one posted several hours before. SE is about generating high quality answers after all. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Feb 14 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ It's complementary to the other answer, and it contains a video and screen shot of the device in question. It's okay for SE questions to have multiple answers, since degrees and ratios of perceived utility can vary substantially between users. It's a heterogeneous group! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 14 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, so you came across this video, thought "oh that's interesting. Now, what question can I come up with that gives me an excuse to post it as an answer" $\endgroup$ – JCRM Feb 14 at 9:36

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