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Wednesday, 14 October 1964

Senator ANDERSON - The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answers -

1.   It is correct that the American satellite Nimbus I transmitted the photograph of south-eastern Australia and the cloud cover. The photographs were received on an experimental aerial and receiver which had been made available by the Weapons Research Establishment of the Department of Supply to the Bureau of Meteorology.

2.   An assessment has been made by my colleague the Minister for the Interior on the benefits to be gained from the satellite and include the following -

(a)   Because of its improved scientific equipment. Nimbus I was able to photograph for the first time the whole of the earth's surface. This is of particular value to Australia as previously practically no information was available between Australia and Antarctica, an area in which much of our weather originates.

(b)   The earlier series of Tiros satellites were useful but were restricted because their cameras were not always pointed towards the earth; Nimbus, however, had its cameras continuously pointed towards the earth and moreover was on a polar orbit enabling it to take in all the earth's land masses.

(k)   For Australia there will be a wealth of information for research into meteorology of the Southern Ocean which should lead to increases in the accuracy and range of forecasting.

Although the expected life span of Nimbus I was six months, it is unfortunately no longer transmitting because of failure of the solar cells which provided power. However, the United States of America expects to have at least one weather satellite in orbit continually until the end of 1967.

3.   The United States bears the cost associated with the launching vehicle, the satellite and tracking stations throughout the world for the Nimbus programme. One of these is the Department of Supply's station located at Island Lagoon, Woomera. As is the practice of other countries outside the United States, Australia meets the cost of the equipment and operation of the receiving station at Melbourne which is operated by the Bureau of Meteorology.

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