“Changing of the guard” for Europe’s weather satellites

A repositioning of Europe’s geostationary meteorological satellite fleet currently being undertaken at an altitude of 36,000km reached an important milestone today.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

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The newest of EUMETSAT’s Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft – Meteosat-11 – has been moved to its new position at 0° longitude is now sending images of the full disc, or hemisphere, every 15 minutes.

The reason for the repositioning of Meteosat-9, -10 and -11 is to ensure the best possible configuration of the satellites, which monitor severe weather over Europe and Africa, and provide crucial data about the climate.

Meteosat-11 was launched on 15 July 2015 and, after a series of tests, was stored in orbit at 3.4°W, ready to be brought into service when needed.

EUMETSAT flight operations and spacecraft operations teams earlier this month began the process of moving the satellites to new positions and swapping their missions, a process that will last until the middle of March.

The manoeuvres and mission swaps involve:

  • Meteosat-11 moving to 0° longitude, where it has taken over responsibility for the prime “full disc” service  which has been performed by Meteosat-10. This service provides an image of the whole of Europe and Africa and parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans every 15 minutes. This also includes the GERB instrument data collection, the search and rescue service, the data collection platform service, and low rate information (Image) transmission service.
  • Meteosat-10 has already started moving from 0° to 9.5°E, where it will take over the Rapid Scan Service from Meteosat-9. The Rapid Scan Service provides an image of Europe only, every five minutes. This will also include taking over the search and rescue service.
  • Meteosat-9 will move from 9.5°E to 3.5°E, where it will act as a back-up to the other two satellites

Meteosat-11 is the last of EUMETSAT’s MSG satellites. Preparations are well underway for the deployment of the first of the Meteosat Third Generation satellites in 2021, which will herald a new era in operational meteorology and climate monitoring.

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