Meteosat First Generation in orbit

Meteosat First Generation (retired)


EUMETSAT's first satellite mission

Meteosat First Generation in orbit
Meteosat First Generation in orbit

Meteosat First Generation (MFG) provided geostationary satellite data for 40 years, from 1977 to 2017.

Last Updated

08 December 2022

Published on

19 May 2020

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

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. The initial programme, Meteosat First Generation, 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.

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.

Read more about the Meteosat programme in this special e-book.

MFG services

  • Prime 0 degree service — providing image data; meteorological products; data collection and retransmission.
  • Meteorological data distribution service — comprising meteorological observations and charts containing both data analyses and forecasts.
  • The rapid scanning service (RSS) — scanning the alpine region at five-minute intervals. Established as an operational service from September 2001 to January 2007.
  • Indian Ocean Data Coverage (IODC) — spare Meteosat satellites undertook the IODC service from 1998 to 2017.
  • Atlantic data coverage (ADC) and Extended-ADC (XADC) — to bridge a gap in availability of GOES data from the western Atlantic Ocean, Meteosat-3 was moved to the west, from 1991 until 1995.

Further details on coverage and data dissemination can be found in this satellites history document.

MFG Climate Data Records (CDR)

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