A new era of weather forecasting begins

User rating: 5 / 5

The Meteosat Third Generation Imager satellite, which will revolutionize short-term weather forecasting in Europe, lifted off on December 13 at 21.30 on an Ariane 5 rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana. The satellite detached from the rocket 34 minutes later, and then the Malindi ground station in Kenya received the signal from MTG-I1, indicating that the satellite is in good health.

Building on the long-standing partnership between ESA and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 (MTG-I1) is the first of a new generation of satellites providing critical observations for early detection and forecasting rapidly developing severe storms, weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

This third generation of weather satellites not only guarantees continuity of data for forecasting from geostationary orbit for the next two decades, but also improves the current near-real-time imaging and lightning capabilities – a new capability for European weather satellites.

Paul Blythe, ESA’s Meteosat Program Manager, said: “After more than a decade of close collaboration and hard work from everyone involved, it is a profound experience for me to see the first of the MTG-I satellites take to the sky. Thank you to everyone , who made this possible, including our friends in the industrial teams across Europe, under the able leadership of Thales Alenia Space France, my ESA team who supported me throughout, many of whom supported me from the beginning of this adventure, and Eumetsat, our partners and ultimate owners of the MTG satellites.

“Lastly, a big thank you to Arianespace and those at Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana for what has been a flawless launch campaign leading up to this wonderful launch.” Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA, said: “I am extremely proud that a new era of satellite meteorology is beginning. I would like to personally thank the teams involved who have devoted their time, talent and perseverance to make this a good luck, we wouldn’t stand here.

“MTG was developed thanks to the expertise of ESA, Eumetsat and a highly competitive European space industry. With the satellite’s innovative design and its new “lightning arrester”, MTG will take European weather forecasting into the future. I very much look forward to the coming decades of cooperation with our European partners , in particular the ESA Member States participating in the MTG program and whose contribution will ensure that Europe remains a world leader in satellite meteorology, as well as Eumetsat and all our partners involved. of Earth observation.”

“Meteosat Third Generation is a European success story. The goal of this multi-billion dollar investment is to provide meteorological services with a much greater amount of more accurate information that will help them protect life, property and infrastructure. This system will literally save lives . . ,” added Phil Evans, Director General of Eumetsat, to that.

MTG-1’s journey into space

Thirty-four minutes after launch, MTG-I1 separated from Ariane 5 at an altitude of 250 km, initiating the automatic post-separation procedure, including solar array deployment and solar orientation, to ensure the safety of the satellite. In the first few orbits around Earth, the team powered the satellite to open the solar panels and point them at the sun.

Then the team will move the satellite from the initial geostationary orbit, which is highly elliptical, to the circular geostationary orbit through a series of main engine burns before apogee. This phase will last about five days, after which the orbit will be close to its final operational location at zero degrees over Ivory Coast.

MTG-I1 and its two rideshare partners — Intelsat’s Galaxy 35 and Galaxy 36 telecommunications satellites — have a combined combined mass of nearly 11 tons, including the adapter that launched them into space. That’s nearly the mass record for an Ariane 5 launch to geostationary orbit.

A new generation of weather satellites

MTG-I1 is the first of six satellites that make up the entire MTG system, which will provide critical data for short-term and early detection of potential extreme weather events for the next 20 years. In full operation, the mission will consist of two MTG-I satellites and one MTG sounding (MTG-S) satellite working in tandem. The MTG-I satellites include two brand new instruments, a Flexible Combined Imager and Europe’s first Lightning Imager, to deliver high-quality data for improved short-term weather forecasting.

The innovative Lightning Imager will be able to capture individual lightning events in the sky, both day and night. This is the first time a geostationary weather satellite has been able to detect lightning across Europe, Africa and surrounding waters. It will continuously monitor more than 80% of the Earth’s disk for lightning discharges that occur between clouds or between clouds and the ground.

The Flexible Combined Imager will use two scanning services to build a picture of rapidly developing events. With the full disk scanning service, the imaging camera scans the entire Earth disk in just 10 minutes. With the fast scan service, the imaging camera scans Europe and North Africa every 2.5 minutes.

The data collected across 16 different spectral bands provides accurate information on everything from clouds, water vapor, oceans and localized fires. The images will make it possible to predict severe weather earlier, improve forecasts, and improve key meteorological systems and environmental events.

The MTG-I satellites also carry two smaller payloads for collecting data from distant scientific beacons and for search and rescue by detecting distress beacons. With these brand new instruments, severe storms can be detected at an early stage, which is essential for timely warnings.

The MTG mission is a collaboration between Eumetsat and ESA. ESA is responsible for the development and procurement of the six MTG satellites. Eumetsat determines the system requirements, develops the ground systems, buys the launch services, operates the satellites and makes the data available to users.

The MTG satellites are being built by a large consortium of European companies, led by Thales Alenia Space in collaboration with OHB. The innovative Lightning Imager was developed by Leonardo in Italy. Telespazio provides Eumetsat launch and in-orbit services.

Source: ESA

Leave a Comment