Past Satellites

Meteosat First Generation (MFG) geostationary satellites provided images of the full Earth disc, and data for weather forecasts for almost 30 years.

The first Meteosat, Meteosat-1, was launched in 1977, and the last, Meteosat-7, was launched on 2 September 1997.

The Early Years in Europe

In 1968, the eight-nation European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), now the European Space Agency (ESA), received funding for studies of application satellites, including weather satellites. Meteosat introduced the concept of a global system of geostationary platforms capable of observing the atmospheric circulation and weather around the equator, in near real-time. In September 1972 ESRO officially adopted the Meteosat programme and launched the first prototype Meteosat in November 1977, followed by Meteosat-2 in 1981.

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In 1981 an Intergovernmental Conference of 17 European countries — convened to consider the matter of long-term continuity of Meteosat — decided a new specialised operational organisation was needed. In March 1983 the Convention for the future EUMETSAT organisation was agreed. At the same time, the Member States of the European Space Agency agreed to initiate the Meteosat Operational Programme (MOP), involving the construction of three further satellites to be handed over to EUMETSAT.

Meteosat-4, -5 and-6 were launched between 1989 and 1993. Meteosat-3 was an old engineering prototype, which was launched in 1988 after refurbishment to successfully fill the gap until Meteosat-4 became operational.

In May 1991 the EUMETSAT Council decided to establish an independent ground segment, to replace the system established by ESA in 1977. This was the start of the Meteosat Transition Programme (MTP), which covered the phasing out of the MOP to the start of the Meteosat Second Generation programme. On 15 November 1995, control of the Meteosat satellites in orbit was passed to EUMETSAT. Meteosat-7, the final satellite in the series, was launched on 2 September 1997.

Meteosat First Generation Satellites
Satellite Launch date Prime date Retirement date Details
Meteosat-7 02/09/1997 03/06/1998 31/03/2017 0 degree coverage, IODC (01/11/2006–31/03/2017)
Meteosat-6 19/11/1993 21/10/1996 15/04/2011 0 degree coverage, RSS (22/05/2000–08/01/2007)
Meteosat-5 02/03/1991 02/05/1991 16/04/2007 0 degree coverage, IODC (01/07/1998–16/04/2007)
Meteosat-4 06/03/1989 19/06/1989 08/11/1995 0 degree coverage
Meteosat-3 15/06/1988 11/08/1988 31/05/1995 0 degree coverage, ADC (01/08/1991–27/01/1993), XADC (21/02/1993–31/05/1995)
Meteosat-2 19/06/1981 16/08/1981 11/08/1988 0 degree coverage
Meteosat-1 23/11/1977 09/12/1977 25/11/1979 0 degree coverage


Spare Meteosat satellites have undertaken the IODC service since 1998. It was originally set up to support the international climate experiment INDOEX, by providing Meteosat-5 imagery for the Indian Ocean area, for the duration of this experiment.

Meteosat-7 took over as interim service in 2007 and remained as IODC satellite until 2017.

In 2017 the IODC service transitioned from Meteosat-7 to Meteosat-8.

Earlier 0 degree, Atlantic Data Coverage and Rapid Scan Services

Prior to providing the IODC Service, MFG satellites supported the prime 0 degree service providing image data; meteorological products; data collection and retransmission, and the Meteorological Data Distribution service comprising meteorological observations and charts containing both data analyses and forecasts.

In 1999 Meteosat-6 took part in the international Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP), aimed at improving knowledge of precipitation mechanisms and circulation patterns in mountainous regions. During an intensive observing period, from August to November 1999, the satellite scanned the alpine region at five-minute intervals, returning six images every half-hour. The Rapid Scanning Service (RSS) was established as an operational service, from September 2001, and continued until January 2007, when service was transferred to a Meteosat Second Generation satellite. Meteosat-6 was reorbited and retired on 15 April, 2011.

In order to bridge a gap in availability of GOES data from the western Atlantic Ocean from 1991 until 1995, Meteosat-3 was moved to the west, at first to 50° W and early in 1993 to 75° W. This temporary service, called Atlantic Data Coverage (ADC) and Extended-ADC (XADC) respectively, had the primary purpose of supporting the monitoring of severe weather events such as hurricanes. Image data from this period are available from the EUMETSAT Data Centre.

Further details on coverage and data dissemination (PDF, 50 KB)