First light for Metop-C: AVHRR

EUMETSAT’s polar-orbiting satellite Metop-C has sent its first image back to Earth, less than a week after its launch on 7 November.

Monday, 12 November 2018

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The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) has started sending data by its visible (0.64 µm) and near infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) channels.

The image above – the very first AVHRR image from Metop-C, produced by EUMETSAT, 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.

EUMETSAT’s Head of Strategy, Communication and International Relations Paul Counet said the stunning first image from the AVHRR was not just an important milestone for Metop-C but a manifestation of what can be achieved for the benefit of people around the world through international cooperation.

“The Metop satellites are the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System, a European programme that has made the single biggest contribution to improving the accuracy of weather forecasts 12 hours to 10 days ahead,” Counet said.

“However, the Metops carry a number of American instruments, including the AVHRR, in addition to its suite of European instruments.

“Through the Initial Joint Polar System with NOAA, Europe and the US share data from the Metops and American satellites. EUMETSAT’s and NOAA’s satellites also fly on complementary orbits. This ensures greater frequency of coverage and brings benefits to all.”

The AVHRR on Metop-C is the last of 18 of these instruments launched into space since October 1978.

This third generation of AVHRR senses spectral radiation from visible (0.64 µm) to infrared (12.0 µm) with six optical channels, although only data from five channels can be downlinked at any time.

With all these channels, AVHRR provides daily global monitoring of cloud cover, vegetation, fire, land and sea surface temperature, snow and ice detection, and other geophysical parameters.

The extensive record by nearly identical instruments for over four decades is a unique asset for climate studies.

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