September 10, 2010
EUMETSAT signs Metop-C launch contract with Arianespace
On 10 September, the Director-General of EUMETSAT, Dr. Lars Prahm, and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, Jean-Yves Le Gall, signed the launch contract for the Metop-C polar-orbiting satellite.
Director-General of EUMETSAT, Dr. Lars Prahm, and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, Jean-Yves Le Gall, sign the Metop-C launch contract. Image courtesy Arianespace.
The signing took place at Arianespace headquarters in Evry, France.
Metop-C will be launched into polar orbit by a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana during the last quarter of 2016.
Metop-C will be part of the EUMETSAT Polar System, the European component of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS). Under the Joint Transition Activities agreement between EUMETSAT and NOAA, Metop covers the mid-morning orbit of the IJPS, while the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for the AM and PM orbits with its NOAA-18 and NOAA-19 polar-orbiting satellites.
Metop-C is the third in the series. Metop-A , Europe’s first operational meteorological satellite in polar orbit, was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in October 2006 by Starsem, a subsidiary of Arianespace, with a Soyuz rocket. Metop-B will also be launched by Starsem in the second quarter of 2012.
Since its launch, Metop-A has demonstrated the importance of the measurements delivered by its impressive array of instruments, notably the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI), which has greatly benefitted Numerical Weather Prediction. Another example is the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2), Metop-A’s scanning spectrometer, which delivers operational information on atmospheric water vapour, the most important natural (as opposed to man-made) greenhouse gas. GOME-2 can also be used to derive the track of a volcano plume, as was demonstrated during the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April.
Built by Astrium, the Metop-C satellite will weigh 4,250 kilograms at launch. It will carry a dozen instruments designed to take atmospheric measurements (pressure, humidity, temperature, ozone concentration, among others) at different altitudes and to map temperatures and wind fields on the ocean surface.