Two generations of active Meteosat satellites, Meteosat First Generation (MFG) and Meteosat Second Generation (MSG), providing images of the full Earth disc, and data for weather forecasts.
Today, weather satellites scan the whole Earth, meaning not a single tropical storm or severe weather system goes undetected. The early detection and warnings they provide have saved thousands of lives.
Meteosat data is of unique value to nowcasting of high impact weather in support of safety of life and property.
It has been shown to improve weather forecasts and severe weather warnings which, in turn helps limit damage to property and benefits industry e.g. transport, agriculture and energy.
|Meteosat-11 (MSG)||15/07/2015 – tbc||In orbit storage||n/a|
|Meteosat-10 (MSG)||05/07/2012 – Nominal fuel lifetime is until 2022||0°
|0º SEVIRI Image Data. Real-time Imagery. Data Collection Service|
|Meteosat-9 (MSG)||22/12/2005 – Fuel lifetime is expected to be extended until 2021||9.5° E
|Rapid Scan Service from 9 April 2013. Real-time Imagery|
|Meteosat-8 (MSG)||28/08/2002 – Fuel lifetime is expected to be extended until 2019||41.5° E
|Full IODC service|
|Meteosat-7 (MFG)||02/09/1997 (IODC since 01/11/2006) – 2017||57° E
|End of life planned for April 2017|
Meteosat — providing a vital service
In geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the equator, the Meteosat satellites — Meteosat-7, -8, -9 and -10 — operate over Europe and Africa.
Meteosat-10 (launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou in 2012) is the prime operational geostationary satellite, positioned at 0 degrees and providing full disc imagery every 15 minutes.
Meteosat-9 (launched on 2005) provides the Rapid Scanning Service, delivering more frequent images every five minutes over parts of Europe, Africa and adjacent seas.
Meteosat-8 (launched in 2002) Meteosat-8 operates over the Indian Ocean.
Meteosat-7 (launched in 1997) is the last of the first generation of Meteosat satellites. It operated over the Indian Ocean and de-orbit is planned for Spring 2017.
The Meteosat Data Collection Service is provided from 0 degree and IODC locations.
Meteosat-11 (MSG-4) was launched on 15 July 2015 at 21:42 (UTC) and will be stored in orbit, until required.
These services are vital to ensure the safety of lives, property and infrastructure, particularly in situations of severe weather.
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 when the fuel in the elder of the two starts to run out. After the end of the MSG lifetime there will be a follow-on series — Meteosat Third Generation.
The MSG satellites carry a pair of instruments — the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), which observes the Earth in 12 spectral channels and the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument, a visible-infrared radiometer for Earth radiation budget studies.
The satellites continually return detailed imagery of Europe, the North Atlantic and Africa every 15 minutes, for operational use by meteorologists.
Meteosat Second Generation applications
Nowcasting and very short range forecasting
The primary role of the Meteosat satellites is to help detect and forecast rapidly developing high impact weather, such as thunderstorms or fog, up to six hours ahead.
Nowcasting and very short range forecasts — up to six hours — are vital for the safety of life, property and infrastructure and rely on very frequent, detailed images of the atmosphere.
The data provided by MSG’s SEVIRI instrument supports a large range of nowcasting applications:
- Detailed monitoring of convection, which can lead to the development of severe thunderstorms.
- The detection of fog, dust storms or ash.
- The assessment of air mass characteristics.
Meteosat imagery is also used by weather forecasters to cross-check that weather prediction model output is in line with what is actually happening in the atmosphere, and to adjust their very short-range forecasts accordingly.
Severe convective storms, or thunderstorms, are usually accompanied by strong winds and heavy rainfall and, sometimes, by hail. They can be a serious threat to life and property in Europe and Africa.
MSG allows the continuous monitoring of all stages of convection, ranging from the initial instability in the atmosphere, indicating the possibility of convection, to the development and properties of mature thunderstorms.
The rapid 15 minute, or even five minute, image updates from Meteosat satellites are an important tool for meteorologists to monitor the often rapid development of convective storms and help them issue timely warnings.
The ability of Meteosat satellites to monitor volcanic ash clouds is important for air traffic management. While the impacts of volcanic emissions on aircraft are still not fully resolved and currently under investigation, there have been incidence when planes’ engines have stopped working after travelling through volcanic clouds.
Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites can detect ash in the atmosphere. Because of this capability, MSG satellites are the primary satellites used for monitoring volcanic ash plumes by the London and Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC). The VAACs, operated by the Met Office and Météo-France, are responsible for advisory warnings of volcanic ash in different parts of Europe’s air space.
During the eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn volcanoes, MSG played a vital role following in near-real time the movement and dispersion of the ash plumes.
With new algorithms, data from SEVIRI will soon allow the retrieval of information on the height of the ash plume, the total column loading of ash and the effective radius of the ash particles in cloud-free areas or above cloud.
Meteosat imagery allows 24-hour monitoring of the distribution and behaviour of fog. It is used, in combination with other techniques, to help detect and monitor fog formation and nowcast its dissipation.
This information is particularly important in sensitive localised areas such as around airports, major road networks, and shipping routes and ports.
The MSG system is established under cooperation between EUMETSAT and the European Space Agency, to ensure the continuity of meteorological observations from geostationary orbit, following on from Meteosat First Generation.
This area provides material covering many aspects of the satellite, its instrumentation and general aspects of the programme, ground and data distribution systems.
Meteosat Second Generation programme
Satellite and Instruments
SEVIRI Radiometer Operating PrincipleThis short video shows the scanning principle of the SEVIRI Radiometer, the primary imstrument aboard MSG satellites. Meteosat-10, the current primary MSG satellite, scans the 'full disc' of the Earth every 30 minutes.
SEVIRI Rapid ScanThis video shows the area covered by the 'rapid scanning service' provided by Meteosat-9, the current secondary MSG satellite. The reduced area allows the scan speed to be doubled to every 15 minutes.
Data Example - European Weather, July2014This video provides an example of how various channels of the SEVIRI radiometer are combined to support weather forecasting, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Using MSG data
MSG Data in useIn this interview, Nataša Strelec Mahović of the Meteorological and Hydrological Institute of Croatia outlines how MSG data are used in Croatia
MSG data in useIn this interview, Paul de Valk of Koninklijk Nederland Meteorologisch Instituut (KNMI), illustrates how Meteosat products assist in weather prediction throughout the Netherlands
EUMETSAT ground system and data distributionAn introduction to the EUMETSAT ground system, including its data distribution mechanisms