Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) consists of a series of four geostationary meteorological satellites, along with ground-based infrastructure, that will operate consecutively until 2020. The MSG satellites carry an impressive pair of instruments — the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), which has the capacity to observe the Earth in 12 spectral channels and provide image data which is core to operational forecasting needs, and the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument supporting climate studies.
The first MSG satellite, Meteosat-8, launched on 28 August 2002, ushered in a new era in weather and climate monitoring. MSG's enhanced channel capacity, and ability to transmit more than 20 times the information at twice the speed of its predecessor, has opened up a range of improved applications for users. The second of EUMETSAT’s new generation weather satellites, Meteosat-9 (MSG-2) was successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane-5 GS launcher, on 22 December 2005. Seven years on and Meteosat-10 (MSG-3) was successfully launch, again from Kourou, on 5 July 2012. Watch the launch event at EUMETSAT (in two parts).
The MSG system is established under cooperation between EUMETSAT and the European Space Agency (ESA), to ensure the continuity of meteorological observations from geostationary orbit.
A European consortium, led by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the United Kingdom, supports the provision of an additional research instrument — the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) — and delivers the associated data services.
EUMETSAT is the design authority for the associated ground segment. The EUMETSAT ground segment project team established the architecture of the ground segment, which is composed of several facilities. The development of the facilities was subcontracted to various European contractors, who supported integration and testing at EUMETSAT premises. To optimise operational activities, and to ensure best value for money, EUMETSAT has developed several multi-mission ground network facilities which are common to first and second generation Meteosat and Metop ground segments. The cost of the ongoing operations of all MSG satellites is borne by EUMETSAT.
Each Meteosat satellite is expected to remain in orbit, in an operable condition for at least seven years. The current policy is to keep two operable satellites in orbit and to launch a new satellite close to the date at which the elder of the two comes to the end of its on-board fuel. After the end of the MSG lifetime there will be a follow-on series in geostationary orbit — Meteosat Third Generation.