November 2, 2004
EUMETSAT and ESA Sign MSG-4 Agreement
Signature Paves Way for Fourth MSG Satellite
EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and ESA, the European Space Agency, signed an agreement to begin building the fourth satellite in the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) series, ensuring continuity of satellite data services in Europe until at least 2018.
The agreement was signed in Paris at the ESA Headquarters by EUMETSAT Director-General Dr. Lars Prahm and ESA Director-General Dr. Jean Jacques Dordain. It officially names France’s Alcatel as the prime contractor to build the MSG-4 satellite.
Alcatel was the prime contractor for the first three satellites in the series, leading a European industrial consortium. The price of the MSG-4 satellite contract was roughly €135 million at December 2001 economic conditions, with delivery expected in 2007.
“Continuity of satellite data services is crucial for the people and businesses of Europe. It is also one of the main missions of EUMETSAT. So, it is with great pleasure that I put pen to paper today and sign this agreement to begin building the fourth MSG satellite,” said Dr. Prahm.
The first MSG satellite, which was renamed Meteosat-8, was launched in August 2002 and went operational in January 2004. It ushered in a new era for meteorological satellites, offering improved and faster images and data to European forecasters and other users.
These data are already helping weather services give more accurate predictions of extreme weather, potentially saving property and lives. They also help researchers gain a deeper understanding of physical processes important to weather and climate change.
MSG satellites are spin-stabilised in the geostationary orbit and perform full-disc scans of the Earth just like predecessor satellites. However, MSG’s 12 spectral channels, or “eyes,” and a repeat cycle of only 15 minutes (instead of 30 minutes before), mean MSG satellites can provide 20 times the information of previous-generation satellites.
Each of the satellite’s 12 channels offers a different perspective of the Earth and different combinations of channels can be used to create novel meteorological products.
EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organisation that establishes and maintains operational meteorological satellites for 18 European States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom). EUMETSAT has signed nine Cooperating State Agreements. Those with Hungary, Latvia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Rumania have entered into force whereas the Agreements with Serbia and Montenegro and the Czech Republic are to be ratified in the near future.
The data, product and services from EUMETSAT’s satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and to the monitoring of the global climate.