Europe's third polar-orbiting weather satellite lofted into orbit

#Weather, #Climate change, #ESA, #Air pollution

Published on 8 November 2018

The third MetOp satellite, MetOp-C, has been launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to continue the provision of data for weather forecasting from polar orbit.

Carrying the 4083 kg MetOp-C satellite, the Soyuz rocket lifted off on 7 November at 00:47 GMT.

Some 60 minutes later Soyuz’s upper stage delivered MetOp-C into orbit and contact was established through the Yatharagga ground station in Australia.

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

The MetOp satellites are developed by ESA under a cooperation agreement to form the space segment of the Eumetsat Polar System. This system is Europe’s contribution to a multi-orbit polar system shared with the US NOAA agency.


Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “The MetOp programme 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 US.

“MetOp-A was Europe’s first weather satellite to orbit Earth from pole to pole, around 800 km high and complementing the long-standing series of Meteosat missions that orbit 36 000 km above the equator.

“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.”

The Metop satellites have nine main instruments and fly in a sun-synchronous “mid-morning” polar orbit at an altitude of 817km, which enables global observations of weather, atmospheric composition, ocean and land surfaces.

When Metop-C is commissioned, EUMETSAT will simultaneously operate three Metop satellites equally spaced around their orbit about 120° apart, and this is expected to continue until the de-orbiting of Metop-A, which is planned for 2022.

What observations will Metop-C collect?

  • Vertical profiles of temperature and humidity in the troposphere, even in the presence of clouds;
  • Vertical profiles of ozone concentration, column contents of NO2, SO2, CO and other atmospheric constituents, properties of aerosols;
  • Imagery and properties of clouds;
  • Sea surface temperature, wind at the surface of the ocean and sea ice;
  • Soil moisture, vegetation, land surface temperature;
  • Measurements of charged particles in the space environment.

What are the main applications of Metop data?

  • Operational meteorology
  • Global and regional numerical weather prediction at ranges from 12 hours to 10 days;
  • Regional nowcasting of high impact weather at mid and high latitudes.
  • Marine applications
  • Marine meteorology and sea state forecasting;
  • Operational oceanography.
  • Environment monitoring
  • Air quality monitoring and forecasting;
  • Ozone monitoring.
  • Climate monitoring
  • Long-term series/climate records of various essential climate variables.

More information about the IASI instrument in French or Dutch

Read more on the ESA website

Read more on the EUMETSAT website