Darmstadt, 30 March – EUMETSAT is preparing to ship its third Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-3) satellite to French Guiana on 13 April for a 19 June 2012 launch from Kourou, the European Space Port, to ensure continuity of real-time weather monitoring from geostationary orbit 36,000 km from Earth.
This service, currently provided by Meteosat-9 and the aging Meteosat-8, launched in August 2002, is vital to ensure the safety of lives, property and infrastructure, particularly in situations of severe weather. The launch of MSG-3 is timed for the smooth transition from Meteosat-8, which has greatly exceeded its expected lifetime.
After the switching on and testing of its systems and instruments, MSG-3 will be renamed Meteosat-10. Together with Meteosat-9, launched in December 2005, it will form the two-satellite Meteosat Second Generation system which EUMETSAT operates to support weather forecasters in one of their most challenging tasks, called “nowcasting”. This involves detecting in real time rapidly developing high impact phenomena like thunderstorms or fog, predicting their evolution a few hours ahead and issuing warnings accordingly. Nowcasting requires very frequent high-quality images of the atmosphere that only advanced geostationary satellites can deliver from space.
MSG-3 (Meteosat-10) will provide full disk images of the European and African continents, as well as parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans every 15 minutes, while Meteosat-9 will deliver more frequent images over Europe every five minutes.
Furthermore, MSG-3 will expand the 35-year climate records accumulated by the Meteosat series since 1977 and deliver unique information on wind in altitude, extracted from the observed displacement of cloud tops and water vapour patterns.
The MSG satellite series is the result of the successful cooperation model with the European Space Agency (ESA), which develops the satellites according to EUMETSAT’s requirements and procures recurrent units on the latter’s behalf from the European space industry. All MSG satellites are manufactured by a European consortium led by Thales Alenia Space.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 27 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia (pending ratification), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and four Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia).
EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.
Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007.
The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.
The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.