The Meteosat series of satellites are geostationary meteorological satellites operated by EUMETSAT under the Meteosat Transition Programme (MTP) and the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) program.

The MTP program was established to ensure the operational continuity between the end of the successful Meteosat Operational Programme in 1995 and Meteosat Second Generation (MSG), which came into operation at the start of 2004 using improved satellites. The MTP provides an overlap with MSG by continuing the current Meteosat system until at least the end of the year 2005. The MSG program will provide service until the MTG (Meteosat Third Generation) program takes over.


First generation

A photograph of a Meteosat First Generation satellite prior to launch

The first generation of Meteosat satellites, Meteosat-1 to Meteosat-7, provide continuous and reliable meteorological observations from space to a large user community. In addition to the provision of images of the Earth and its atmosphere every half-hour in three spectral channels (Visible, Infrared) and Water Vapour, via the Meteosat Visible and Infrared Imager (MVIRI) instrument, a range of processed meteorological products is produced. Meteosat also supports the retransmission of data from data collection platforms in remote locations, at sea and on board aircraft, as well as the dissemination of meteorological information in graphical and text formats.

The satellites were manufactured by a consortium COSMOS, with Aérospatiale in its Cannes Mandelieu Space Center, as Prime, and included Matra, MBB, Selenia Spazio, Marconi Company.

They are 2.1 metres in diameter and 3.195 metres long. Its initial mass in orbit is 282 kg, and in orbit, the satellite spins at 100 rpm around its main axis [1]

Second Generation

The contract for the second generation was awarded to Aérospatiale in its Cannes Mandelieu Space Center (now Thales Alenia Space), with main subcontractors as Matra, Messerschmitt, Alenia.

Meteosat Second Generation was designed in response to user requirements to serve the needs of Nowcasting applications and numerical weather prediction. In addition the GERB instrument provides important data for climate monitoring and research.

The new satellites are spin-stabilised like the previous generation, but with many design improvements. The more frequent and comprehensive data collected by MSG also aids the weather forecaster in the swift recognition and prediction of dangerous weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, fog and explosive development of small but intense depressions which can lead to devastating wind storms.

The MSG satellites are 3.2 m in diameter and 2.4 m high and spins anti-clockwise at 100 RPM[2] at an altitude of 36,000 km.[3]

On January 29, 2004 the first Meteosat Second Generation satellite MSG-1, renamed to Meteosat-8, commenced routine operations. In addition to the main optical payload SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager), Meteosat-8 also carries the secondary payload GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) instrument.

The launch of MSG-2 (renamed to Meteosat-9) took place on December 21, 2005.

The MSG control center in Darmstadt

In 2011 Meteosat-7, -8 and -9 are all operational. Meteosat-7 is stationed over the Indian Ocean. Meteosat-8, and -9 are both located over Africa with various differences in operational configuration. Meteosat-7 provides the primary imagery coverage over the Indian Ocean (with images every 30-minutes) and provides a service relaying data from Data Collection Platforms (DCP), such as buoys, in support of the Tsunami Warning System for the Indian Ocean. Meteosat-8 is a backup to Meteosat-9 (and Meteosat-8 also provides an operational European 'rapid scan' mode service, which commenced in the second quarter of 2008 (with images of Europe every 5 minutes)). Meteosat-9 provides the main full earth imagery service over Europe and Africa (with images every 15-minutes).

The launch of MSG-3 is tentatively planned for 2012 and MSG-4 tentatively planned for 2014. Like MSG-1 and MSG-2, MSG-3 and MSG-4 are planned for launch by Arianespace.[4]

Secondary Payloads

Both MSG-1 and MSG-2 carry a DCP service and a Search and Rescue signal Processor (SARP) that detects 406 MHz distress signals from distress radiobeacons. See more under Cospas-Sarsat.

Third Generation

Considering the long development cycle for a new observational space system, EUMETSAT has been working on the definition and the planning for a Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system since the year 2000. MTG components providing continuity of MSG services need to be available around 2015, before the end of the nominal lifetime of MSG. MTG preparatory activities started end of 2000 in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), following the decision of the EUMETSAT Council to proceed with a Post-MSG User Consultation Process. The process is aimed at capturing the foreseeable needs of users of EUMETSAT's satellite data in the 2015-2025 timeframe.[5]

On March 19, 2010, ESA choose Thales Alenia Space for a final negotiation leading to a contract to be signed during June.[6]

On June 22, 2010, Eumetsat confirm the choice of Thales Alenia Space.[7]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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