Verner Suomi (1915–1995)



Verner Edward Suomi passed away in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sunday, July 30, after a long battle with heart disease. Internationally recognized as the father of satellite meteorology, Suomi invented many satellite instruments that led to a better understanding of the Earth and its atmosphere. He succeeded in conducting the first American meteorological experiment ever from a satellite platform in 1959, in which he measured the Earth radiation budget with white and black heat sensing radiometers. This was followed by planetary investigations with similar instruments for Venus and Jupiter space probes. Suomi's most influential invention was the spin-scan camera, which enabled geostationary weather observations. This technology is still used worldwide today. He also founded the Space Science and Engineering Center, where many of his inventions were created and systems were established to process the data into information. In a eulogy, University of Wisconsin Provost John Wiley commented, “Verner Suomi was a giant of modern science. His inventions were simple and elegant, and their consequences are ubiquitous. Anyone looking at a satellite image of Earth on the evening weather is looking at the product of a rare mind.”