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Industry News


Eumetsat launches third MetOp satellite to enhance weather observations

Eumetsat has successfully launched its third MetOp satellite, MetOp-C, from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to continue the provision of data for weather forecasting from polar orbit.

The satellite was carried by a Soyuz rocket which lifted off on November 7, 2018, delivering MetOp-C into orbit some 60 minutes later. Contact was established through the Yatharagga ground station in Australia.

MetOp-C is the last in the current series of MetOp satellites, following MetOp-A, which was launched in 2006, and MetOp-B, which was launched in 2012.

The MetOp satellites are developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) under a cooperation agreement to form the space segment of the Eumetsat Polar System (EPS). This system is Europe’s contribution to a multi-orbit polar system shared with the USA’s NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) agency.

The MetOp satellites carry an array of sensors that measure temperature, humidity, trace gases, ozone and windspeed over the ocean.

Josef Aschbacher, director of Earth observation programs, ESA, said, “The MetOp program demonstrates the value of cooperation – something that has been achieved by ESA and Eumetsat working together. ESA’s role is to design, build and launch the satellites fulfilling Eumetsat requirements. The satellites carry instruments developed in Europe and in the USA.

“It was envisaged that each successive satellite would take over from its predecessor, but thanks to their extraordinary quality, both MetOp-A and MetOp-B are still going strong. With MetOp-C, the mission will continue as a three-satellite constellation, further increasing the wealth of data for weather forecasting.”

Alain Ratier, director general, Eumetsat, said, “We are now ready to take over flight operations from ESA’s European Spacecraft Operations Centre to perform in-orbit commissioning of the satellite and instruments until end of January, in partnership with ESA, CNES and NOAA. After this, Eumetsat scientists will validate output products with expert users, such that we can release real-time products to users in spring 2019.

“With three operational MetOp satellites in orbit, the Eumetsat Polar System will further improve weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead, for the benefit of European citizens and our economy.”

Stewart Turner, space program manager for the Met Office, said, “More than a quarter of the accuracy of our global weather forecast is derived from MetOp, so these satellites form a critical core component of our observing capability. From 2022, the second generation of MetOp satellites will be launched to continue and further enhance the provision of data.

“We’d like to congratulate our partners in Eumetsat and ESA on the success of the launch and look forward to continuing to work closely together on the Polar System and many other exciting projects.”

Eumetsat is a global operational satellite agency comprising 30 member states. The main purpose of Eumetsat is to deliver weather and climate-related satellite data, images and products to its European National Meteorology Services.

- November 2018

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