December 1, 2011
EUMETSAT Council sets sights on future and keeps Africa in view
EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, held its 74th Council meeting in Darmstadt, Germany, on 29 November.
The Council approved the extension of the Cooperating State agreement with Bulgaria and noted that Estonia was expected to become the 27th Member State on 1 January 2012.
The Council was informed about progress in the preparations for the launches of the second Metop (Metop-B) polar-orbiting and the third Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-3) geostationary satellites, both planned in the first half of 2012. The Council gave the go-ahead for planning the launch of MSG-4 in January 2015 and storing it in orbit to save costs and eliminate risks of keeping it on the ground too long, and, in order for work on Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) to continue apace, authorised the start of the procurement process for the ground segment facilities required to command and control the future satellites and acquire their data.
The Council took steps to continue EUMETSAT’s long-standing beneficial engagement in Africa, approving first the five-year extension of the agreement enabling the African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) to use EUMETSAT data and products and to disseminate products of its own via EUMETCast. Then, after being informed of the successful deployment of 111 new EUMETCast reception stations across the African continent in the framework of the AMESD (African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development) project funded by the European Development Fund, Member States agreed that EUMETSAT could contribute to the follow-on MESA (Monitoring of Security and Environment in Africa) project under similar conditions. EUMETSAT will offer technical support for the maintenance of reception stations, use of EUMETCast for product dissemination, first-line support to users through the EUMETSAT Help Desk, and coordination of training activities.
The Council approved the draft cooperation agreement with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on the access to and use of near-real-time data from the Megha-Tropiques satellite by EUMETSAT and its Satellite Application Facilities (SAFs), the National Meteorological Services of its Member and Cooperating States, as well as the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for their official duties. The Megha-Tropiques mission contributes to the forecasting of cyclone and monsoon systems and to climate monitoring.
Finally, the Council approved EUMETSAT’s participation in the space charter on disasters. This contribution will consist mainly of making EUMETSAT and other relevant data available in support of post-disaster recovery efforts via the GEONETCast dissemination partnership.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 26 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and five Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia).
EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.
Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007.
The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added ocean surface topography to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.
The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and to the monitoring of the global climate.