The Council reviewed the first elements of the EPS-SG programme proposal, which is the follow-up programme to the first generation EUMETSAT Polar System. EPS-SG will secure the continuity and enhancement of observations from low-earth orbit to support operational weather forecasting up to 10 days ahead and provide additional operational services in support of environment and climate monitoring. In this context, Council also approved the contract for a new office building on the existing site in Darmstadt, which is necessary to accommodate the additional teams needed to service the programme.
The approval of the EPS-SG programme is planned at the end of 2014 based on a full programme proposal to be submitted to the Council in June 2014.
The Council also gave the green light to extend the optional Jason-2 programme, also involving the French Space Agency (CNES) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for a further period of operations from mid-2015 to the end of 2017. Jason-2 provides high-precision measurements of sea surface topography for operational oceanography and monitoring of mean sea level. The programme extension also includes continuing EUMETSAT’s support for the SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika) ocean altimetry mission over the same time period.
SARAL is a joint mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and CNES, to which EUMETSAT contributes by hosting and operating the European near real-time processing centre. Ocean altimetry data from SARAL complements Jason-2 data as SARAL follows a different orbit and the combination of data from two altimeter missions improves the accuracy of sea surface height measurements.
EUMETSAT’s Council also approved the continuation of the highly successful cooperation agreement with ISRO, which includes the bilateral exchange of data and products from both organisations’ meteorological and ocean-monitoring satellites.