Metop is a series of three polar orbiting meteorological satellites which form the space segment component of the overall EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS).
The EPS programme consists of a series of three polar orbiting Metop satellites, to be flown successively for more than 14 years, from 2006, together with the relevant ground facilities.
Metop-A (launched on 19 October 2006) and Metop-B (launched on 17 September 2012) are in a lower polar orbit, at an altitude of 817 kilometres, to provide more detailed observations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents. The two satellites will operate in parallel for as long as Metop-A's available capacities bring benefits to users. Metop-C is planned to be launched in 2018.
|Metop-A||From 19/10/2006||Low Earth Orbit||Global Data Service. Regional Data Service. Direct Readout Service. Real-time Imagery|
|Metop-B||From 17/09/2012||Low Earth Orbit||Global Data Service. Regional Data Service. Direct Readout Service. Real-time Imagery|
|Metop-C||Launch planned in October 2018||Low Earth Orbit||-|
Metop carries a set of 'heritage' instruments provided by the United States and a new generation of European instruments that offer improved remote sensing capabilities to both meteorologists and climatologists. These instruments augment the accuracy of temperature humidity measurements, readings of wind speed and direction, and atmospheric ozone profiles.
Metop has brought about a new era in the way the Earth's weather, climate and environment are observed and has significantly improved operational meteorology, particularly Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP).
The data generated by the instruments carried by Metop can be assimilated directly into NWP models to compute forecasts ranging from a few hours up to 10 days ahead. Measurements from infrared and microwave radiometers and sounders on board Metop provide NWP models with crucial information on the global atmospheric temperature and humidity structure, with a high vertical and horizontal resolution.
EPS also ensures continuity in the long-term monitoring of factors known to play an important role in climate change, e.g. changing patterns in the distribution of global cloud, snow and ice cover, and ocean surface temperatures and winds.
The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument has the ability to detect and accurately measure the levels and circulation patterns of gases that are known to influence the climate, such as carbon dioxide. The data collected by IASI has been feeds into the models, for the first time showing the variable global distribution of carbon dioxide as a function of seasons and circulation anomalies such as the Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
EPS is the European contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System Agreement (IJPS), an agreement between EUMETSAT and NOAA. Metop flies in a Low Earth orbit corresponding to local 'morning', while the US is responsible for 'afternoon' coverage.
The series will provide data for both operational meteorology and climate studies. The combination of instruments on board Metop has remote sensing capabilities to observe the Earth by day and night, as well as under cloudy conditions.
EPS Programme Background
EUMETSAT is responsible for coordinating all elements of the development, launch and operation of EPS satellites. This includes developing and procuring the ground segment; procuring the launcher and launch site, and operating the systems. Under the IJPS and Joint Transition Activities (JTA) agreement, EUMETSAT and NOAA have agreed to provide instruments for each other's satellites; exchange all data in real time, and assist each other with backup services. Other partners are European Space Agency and CNES.
The European and American satellites carry a set of identical sensors: AVHRR/3 and the ATOVS suite consisting of AMSU-A, HIRS/4 and MHS. NOAA provides most of the joint instruments on board the satellites and EUMETSAT has developed and provides NOAA with the Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS).
In addition, the Metop satellites carry a set of European sensors, IASI, ASCAT, GOME-2 and GRAS, aimed at improving atmospheric soundings, as well as measuring atmospheric ozone and near-surface wind vectors over the ocean. They also carry the Argos Advanced Data Collection System (A-DCS).