Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) provides images of the full Earth disc, and data for weather forecasts.

Today, weather satellites scan the whole Earth, meaning not a single tropical storm or severe weather system goes undetected. The early detection and warnings they provide have saved thousands of lives.

Meteosat data is of unique value to nowcasting of high impact weather in support of safety of life and property.

It has been shown to improve weather forecasts and severe weather warnings which, in turn helps limit damage to property and benefits industry e.g. transport, agriculture and energy.

Current Meteosat Satellites
Satellite Lifetime Position Services
Meteosat-11 15/07/2015 – Availability lifetime is until 2033
36,000 km
0º Service including Data Collection Service and Web Imagery. Replaced Meteosat-10 at 0º on 20 February 2018.
Meteosat-10 05/07/2012 – Availability lifetime is until 2030 9.5°E
36,000 km
Rapid Scanning Service. Replaced Meteosat-9 RSS on 20 March 2018.
Meteosat-9 22/12/2005– Availability lifetime is until 2025 3.5° E
36,000 km
Rapid Scan Service gap filling and back-up spacecraft since 20 March 2018.
Meteosat-8 28/08/2002 – Availability lifetime is until 2022 41.5° E
36,000 km
Indian Ocean Data Coverage Service including Data Collection Service and Web Imagery. Replaced Meteosat-7 on 01 February 2017.

Meteosat — providing a vital service

In geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the equator, the Meteosat satellites — Meteosat-8, -9, -10 and -11 — operate over Europe, Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Meteosat-11 is the prime operational geostationary satellite, positioned at 0 degrees and providing full disc imagery every 15 minutes. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring and Data Collection Platform relay service.

Meteosat-10 provides the Rapid Scanning Service, delivering more frequent images every five minutes over parts of Europe, Africa and adjacent seas. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring.

Meteosat-9 provides a backup service to Meteosat-11 Full Earth scanning and a gap filling service to Meteosat-10 Rapid Scanning.

Meteosat-8 operates over the Indian Ocean performing Full Earth scanning. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring and Data Collection Platform relay service (which includes relay of Tsunami warnings).

The Meteosat Data Collection Service is provided from 0 degree and IODC locations.

Meteosat Services

These services are vital to ensure the safety of lives, property and infrastructure, particularly in situations of severe weather.

Each Meteosat satellite is expected to remain in orbit, in an operable condition for at least seven years. The current policy is to keep two operable satellites in orbit and to launch a new satellite close to the date when the fuel in the elder of the two starts to run out. After the end of the MSG lifetime there will be a follow-on series — Meteosat Third Generation.

The MSG satellites carry a pair of instruments — the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), which observes the Earth in 12 spectral channels and the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument, a visible-infrared radiometer for Earth radiation budget studies.

The satellites continually return detailed imagery of Europe, the North Atlantic and Africa every 15 minutes, for operational use by meteorologists.

Meteosat Second Generation applications

Nowcasting and very short range forecasting

The primary role of the Meteosat satellites is to help detect and forecast rapidly developing high impact weather, such as thunderstorms or fog, up to six hours ahead.

Nowcasting and very short range forecasts — up to six hours — are vital for the safety of life, property and infrastructure and rely on very frequent, detailed images of the atmosphere.

The data provided by MSG’s SEVIRI instrument supports a large range of nowcasting applications:

  • Detailed monitoring of convection, which can lead to the development of severe thunderstorms.
  • The detection of fog, dust storms or ash.
  • The assessment of air mass characteristics.

Meteosat imagery is also used by weather forecasters to cross-check that weather prediction model output is in line with what is actually happening in the atmosphere, and to adjust their very short-range forecasts accordingly.

Convective storm

Severe convective storms, or thunderstorms, are usually accompanied by strong winds and heavy rainfall and, sometimes, by hail. They can be a serious threat to life and property in Europe and Africa.

MSG allows the continuous monitoring of all stages of convection, ranging from the initial instability in the atmosphere, indicating the possibility of convection, to the development and properties of mature thunderstorms.

The rapid 15 minute, or even five minute, image updates from Meteosat satellites are an important tool for meteorologists to monitor the often rapid development of convective storms and help them issue timely warnings.

Volcanic ash

The ability of Meteosat satellites to monitor volcanic ash clouds is important for air traffic management. While the impacts of volcanic emissions on aircraft are still not fully resolved and currently under investigation, there have been incidence when planes’ engines have stopped working after travelling through volcanic clouds.

Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites can detect ash in the atmosphere. Because of this capability, MSG satellites are the primary satellites used for monitoring volcanic ash plumes by the London and Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC). The VAACs, operated by the Met Office and Météo-France, are responsible for advisory warnings of volcanic ash in different parts of Europe’s air space.

During the eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn volcanoes, MSG played a vital role following in near-real time the movement and dispersion of the ash plumes.

With new algorithms, data from SEVIRI will soon allow the retrieval of information on the height of the ash plume, the total column loading of ash and the effective radius of the ash particles in cloud-free areas or above cloud.


Meteosat imagery allows 24-hour monitoring of the distribution and behaviour of fog. It is used, in combination with other techniques, to help detect and monitor fog formation and nowcast its dissipation.

This information is particularly important in sensitive localised areas such as around airports, major road networks, and shipping routes and ports.

Programme overview

Graphical chart showing EUMETSAT/ESA cooperation

The MSG system is established under cooperation between EUMETSAT and the European Space Agency, to ensure the continuity of meteorological observations from geostationary orbit, following on from Meteosat First Generation.

In orbit storage

After the end of commissioning Meteosat-11 was stored in orbit at 3.4 deg W longitude. It will stay there for a period of approximately two-and-a-half years, depending on the performance of the other MSG satellites in orbit.

The decision to store Meteosat-11 in-orbit was taken after analysing the plans for launching the satellite and trading off the viable alternative. The matter was presented to EUMETSAT Council at its 74th meeting in November 2011 and the proposed approach was agreed.

In-orbit storage brings a number of benefits:

  • Reduction of technical risks associated with obsolescence, on-ground storage, removal from storage, and repeated testing of a satellite which was built in 2005.
  • Safe delivery of MSG-4 to orbit in 2015 meant EUMETSAT could fully benefit from the experience of the generation of engineers who had been involved in the MSG Development Programme.
  • Cost savings related to storage, removal from storage and additional tests.
  • Satellite availability — to replace one of the aging operational MSG satellites in a very short time frame, if needed.

The Meteosat-11 in-orbit storage consists in switching off all payloads (SEVIRI included) while the satellite's vital functions (e.g. the orbit and attitude control and the on-board computer) are still fully operational.

The satellite is monitored 24/7 and all 'housekeeping' operations (e.g. station keeping manoeuvres, battery management, SEVIRI decontaminations) are regularly performed under ground control.

In addition, it is foreseen that all satellite payloads will be activated at least once a year, to confirm the stability of the satellite imaging performance.

The satellite configuration was selected after a dedicated study performed by Thales Alenia Space. It provides the benefits of an optimised orbit and attitude to minimise the fuel consumption and, in case of an emergency, allows MSG-4 to be deployed operationally in approximately one week.


Video Gallery

This area provides material covering many aspects of the satellite, its instrumentation and general aspects of the programme, ground and data distribution systems.

Satellite and Instruments

  • CG image
    SEVIRI Radiometer Operating Principle
    This short video shows the scanning principle of the SEVIRI Radiometer, the primary imstrument aboard MSG satellites. Meteosat-10, the current primary MSG satellite, scans the 'full disc' of the Earth every 15 minutes.
  • CG image
    SEVIRI Rapid Scan
    This video shows the area covered by the 'rapid scanning service' provided by Meteosat-9, the current secondary MSG satellite. The reduced area allows the scan speed to be doubled to every five minutes.
  • CG image
    Data Example - European Weather, July2014
    This video provides an example of how various channels of the SEVIRI radiometer are combined to support weather forecasting, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Using MSG data

  • Photo of Maria Strelec Mahovic
    MSG Data in use
    In this interview, Nataša Strelec Mahović of the Meteorological and Hydrological Institute of Croatia outlines how MSG data are used in Croatia
  • Photo of Paul de Valk
    MSG data in use
    In this interview, Paul de Valk of Koninklijk Nederland Meteorologisch Instituut (KNMI), illustrates how Meteosat products assist in weather prediction throughout the Netherlands
  • CG image
    EUMETSAT ground system and data distribution
    An introduction to the EUMETSAT ground system, including its data distribution mechanisms
We use essential cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. To analyse website traffic we also use third-party performance cookies. If you are ok with the use of essential as well as non-essential cookies, please select Accept & Continue. Instructions on how to prevent the use of non-essential cookies are available under our Terms Of Use, or simply select Decline Cookies.