Time-lapse films of the earth from high-flying ballistic missiles have provided the meteorologist with the first synoptic detailed coverage of cloud patterns over large areas. Analysis of the film obtained on 24 August 1959 shows the cloud patterns over an area corresponding to one-twentieth of the earth's total surface.
Comparison of the rectified cloud positions with, the high- and low-level synoptic charts shows large-scale cloud patterns directly associated with high-level vortices and troughs as well as patterns associated with a quasi-stationary front and the intertropical convergence zone. Details suggesting low-level vortices, frontal waves, and a squall line appear, but they cannot be verified due to sparse surface observations. Other details, such as the effects of large and small islands, coastlines and rivers upon the pattern of vertical motion are indicated by the clouds.