September 18, 2012
EUMETSAT operations team ready to take over control of Metop-B satellite and start commissioning
Following yesterday’s successful launch of the Metop-B polar-orbiting satellite from Baikonur, EUMETSAT’s operations team is ready to take over control of the satellite from the ESA European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) on 20 September and to start the satellite in-orbit check out activities.
EUMETSAT will take over control of the Metop-B satellite from ESOC on 20 September, three days after the launch, and will embark on complex activities aimed at checking the performance of the satellite in orbit and validating all products extracted from its observations. Upon completion of these activities, in about six months, the Metop-B satellite will be declared operational.
The activities will be coordinated by the EUMETSAT Control Centre located at EUMETSAT’s headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, using the comprehensive EUMETSAT Polar System ground segment. This ground segment includes a dedicated station at Svalbard, inside the Arctic Circle, which receives telemetry and sends commands to Metop-B, and all facilities required to control the spacecraft, process its data, extract meteorological products from its observations, and deliver these products to users in real time. The activities will be conducted in parallel with continuing operations of Metop-A.
All ground systems were prepared and validated for Metop-B before launch. The EUMETSAT operations team has now started to acquire and process Metop-B telemetry in parallel with ESOC, and to compare orbit calculations and telecommand checks to prepare for the smooth handover on 20 September.
The Metop satellites are Europe’s first operational meteorological satellites in polar orbit. They constitute the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) delivering data for numerical weather prediction (NWP) – the basis of modern weather forecasting – and climate and environmental monitoring.
Flying at an altitude of 817 km, each Metop satellite carries the same sophisticated suite of instruments providing fine-scale global data, which can only be gathered in the low Earth orbit, such as vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature and moisture, wind speed and direction at the ocean surface, and some atmospheric trace gases.
Observations from Metop-A have significantly improved weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead. These forecasts are essential to protect life and limit damage to property, but they also benefit the weather-sensitive sectors of the European economy, especially energy, transportation, construction, agriculture and tourism.
The three Metop satellites, launched sequentially, will provide continuous data until 2020. The first satellite, Metop-A, was launched in 2006, and the third and final satellite, Metop-C, is scheduled for launch at the end of 2017.
ESA is responsible for the development of the three Metop satellites, fulfilling user and system requirements defined by EUMETSAT. ESA also carries out operations for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase to place the satellites in polar orbit, before handing them over to EUMETSAT for commissioning and exploitation. EUMETSAT develops all ground systems required to deliver products and services to users and to respond to their evolving needs, procures launch services and operates the full system for the benefit of users.
The EPS programme is Europe’s contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS), with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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 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.