EUMETSAT extends Metop-A lifetime, approves contract, and signs agreements for extracting new environmental products from observations of next generation satellites

The EUMETSAT Council agreed that the ageing, but still healthy, Metop-A satellite will be exploited on a “drifting” orbit from June 2017 onwards, in order to extend its useful lifetime from 2019 to 2022.

Thursday, 08 December 2016

The nominal ground track will be maintained, but the local time at ascending node will decrease from the nominal mission value of 21h30 in June 2017 to 19h30 in 2021. This measure will enable two to three years of tri-Metop operations with Metop-B and Metop-C as from 2019, after the end of Metop-C commissioning. The launch of Metop-C is currently planned for October 2018. Operating Metop-A in a drifting orbit will maximise the return on investments of EUMETSAT Member States and benefit the worldwide Numerical Weather Prediction user community.

Metop-A will then be de-orbited to a lower perigee orbit for re-entry within 25 years, in line with the policy adopted by Council to comply as far as possible with space debris mitigation guidelines, although Metop satellites were designed long before these guidelines were established.

The development of the EUMETSAT Polar System of Second Generation (EPS-SG) system progressed further at this Council session, with the approval of the contract for the Payload Data Acquisition and Processing (PDAP) function of the ground segment. The PDAP includes ground stations to acquire payload data from the Metop-SG satellites and a complex processing system to extract physical and environmental products in real time. With the approval of this contract, all ground segment development contract will be in force by the end of the year.

At the end of the Council session, the Director-General signed cooperation agreements with the Chief Executive Officers of the Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, UK National Meteorological Services each leading one EUMETSAT Satellite Application Facility (SAF), for the Third Continuous Development and Operations Phase (CDOP 3) of the eight SAFs. Each SAF is a consortium developing and providing EUMETSAT operational products and software for use in a specific application area. The CDOP-3 covers the period 2017-2022 and will further extend EUMETSAT’s portfolio of operational products and develop new products extracted from Meteosat Third Generation and EPS-SG observations.

About EUMETSAT

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 30 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and one Cooperating State (Serbia).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8, -9, -10 and -11 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7/-8 over the Indian Ocean.

EUMETSAT also operates two Metop polar-orbiting satellites as part of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) shared with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

EUMETSAT is also a partner in the cooperative high precision ocean altimetry Jason missions involving Europe and the United States (Jason-2, Jason-3 and Jason-CS/Sentinel-6).

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and climate change.

The European Union has entrusted EUMETSAT with exploiting the four Sentinel missions of the Copernicus space component dedicated to the monitoring of atmosphere, ocean and climate on its behalf. EUMETSAT will carry out these tasks in cooperation with ESA.

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