September 17, 2012
Metop-B successfully launched
At 18:28 CEST (22:28 Baikonur time), Metop-B was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz 2.1a rocket.
Metop-B’s role is to ensure continuity of observations from polar orbit which are vital to Numerical Weather Prediction– the basis of modern weather forecasting - as well as climate and environmental monitoring. This service is currently provided by the first satellite in the series, Metop-A (launched 19 October 2006), which has exceeded its nominal lifetime.
The polar orbiting Metop satellites together with the geostationary Meteosats form the two pillars of Europe’s system of operational meteorological satellites.
The EUMETSAT Director-General congratulated the launch service provider, Starsem, and the Roscosmos teams at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the excellent launch service. He also thanked all the teams who prepared the satellite and ground systems for launch, from EUMETSAT, ESA, CNES, NOAA and the European industrial consortium led by EADS Astrium.
Preparing Metop-B for operational service
Once EUMETSAT has taken control of the satellite on 20 September, work on the in-orbit verification of the satellite begins immediately, lasting six weeks. During this period, the direct broadcast transmission service commences, already allowing local users to receive data from certain instruments as it becomes available. The calibration and validation of products delivered by each instrument processing chain starts in parallel, with the final Level-1 product expected to be available 28 weeks after the launch. Following the operational availability of all Level-1 products, Metop-B will become the prime operational satellite for supporting near-real-time services and the Antarctic Data Acquisition shall be swapped from Metop-A to Metop-B. Routine operations are expected to begin around nine months after launch.
Cooperation with the US
Once Metop-B is operational, it will be the second European satellite in the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) signed in 1998 and shared by Europe and the USA. This cooperation between EUMETSAT and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) comprises two polar-orbiting satellite systems and their respective ground segments delivering continuous global observations for meteorological applications and climate monitoring.
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. The third Meteosat Second Generation satellite, MSG-3, was launched on 5 July 2012 and will be renamed Meteosat-10 after ongoing commissioning is complete.
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 monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.
The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.