Switching on Metop-C’s instruments

Switching on Metop-C’s instruments

Metop-C is now safely orbiting the Earth after a spectacular and eagerly-awaited launch on 7 November.

Switching on Metop-C’s instruments
Switching on Metop-C’s instruments

Much has happened since then for this satellite, which is expected to play a crucially important role in the provision of data for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

Last Updated

24 February 2021

Published on

16 November 2018

After the launch

A little over an hour after Metop-C’s launch by Arianespace from Kourou, the satellite separated from the upper stage of the Soyuz rocket. The satellite was on its own. The first telemetry signal from the satellite received just after separation over Western Australia was the sign the launch had been a success – and a series of further milestone successes have been achieved in the days since.

The “launch and early operations phase”

At this point ESA’s European Space Operations Centre at Darmstadt, working with a team from EUMETSAT, led the three-day launch and early operations phase of Metop-C’s life in space. The purpose of the LEOP was to ensure that the satellite’s solar array and all antennas were deployed, that all on-board systems required to support the mission were activated, properly configured and working correctly and that the desired orbit was achieved allowing a controlled drift into its final commissioning position in a Tri-Star configuration with Metop-A and B. All of Metop-C’s avionic systems, power system, temperature control, on-board software and telecommunication links, were checked. Following this process, EUMETSAT took over control of Metop-C on Saturday night and started flight operations for the in-orbit verification activities and to manoeuvre Metop-C into its final orbital slot.

Commissioning Metop-C

Now, teams at EUMETSAT, including partners from the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, ESA, CNES and industry are switching on the satellite’s instruments, some of which have already started sending data back to Earth. Here are some of the first Metop-C’s very first image, was from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) after it started sending data by its visible (0.64 µm) and near infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) channels. 

sat img
The very first AVHRR image from Metop-C shows a red-green-blue composite of the AVHRR’s channels 3a (1.61 µm), 2 (0.86 µm) and 1 (0.64 µm) data. In this image, ocean is black, vegetation is green, desert is brown to grey, low (water) clouds are white, and high (ice) clouds are cyan.
In another early image from the AVHRR, smoke from the devastating wildfires in California is clearly visible. This demonstrates the role meteorological satellites can play in detecting and ultimately forecasting air quality, for example.
The Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME-2) has been switched on and is sending promising data already. This image shows “Earth shine” measurements. It might not mean as much to many people as the images above but our scientists are delighted!
img-GRAS First

The Global Navigation Satellite System Receiver for Atmospheric Sound (GRAS) instrument has also been switched on and is operating well. Its first image also pleased our team.