Geostationary satellites are a key tool for scientists to monitor and observe the Earth's atmosphere. They are called geostationary due to their movement. Geostationary satellites orbit around the Earth at the same rate as the Earth rotates so that the satellites are over the same spot on Earth all the time. This allows them to collect a continuous stream of data for one location so that "movies" of the data can be made. The satellites are positioned 22,300 miles above the Earth's surface in order to view the Earth's full disk and to maintain their geostationary orbit. Geostationary satellites travel at about 7000mph in order to maintain their geostationary orbit. Over the United States there are two such satellites, the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) - East and GOES-West. There are many such satellites worldwide.
This dataset shows how the geostationary satellites actually collect data. Satellites don't take pictures of the Earth, rather they collect data by scanning the Earth. The GOES satellites for the United States take approximately 26 minutes to scan the entire Earth. There are 2700 scan lines in an entire Earth image. This dataset is an animation that illustrates the data being collected in the scan lines. The satellites are able to scan from east to west and west to east. Future satellites will only take approximately 6 to 7 minutes to scan the Earth. The same animation is shown on both sides of the sphere.