MetOp-A, the first member of a new family of European satellites designed to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere from low Earth orbit, is to be launched from
It will complement Europe’s Meteosat satellites in geostationary orbit and form part of an integrated system to be run with the
The MetOp satellite series is a joint programme by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Meteorological Satellite Organisation (EUMETSAT), with the latter to operate the spacecraft once in orbit. These new satellites will form the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) and probe the atmosphere with from a sun-synchronous orbit.
They will circle the globe from pole to pole at an altitude of about 817 km, collecting high- resolution data to complement the hemispheric survey of the atmosphere conducted from geostationary orbit by the Meteosat system.
These new European satellites will be operated in partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar weather satellite system, providing data that will be used to monitor the planet’s climate and improve weather forecasting. NOAA satellites will operate the ‘afternoon shift’ (crossing the equator in the afternoon, local time), with
The MetOp spacecraft have been developed and built by an industrial team led by EADS Astrium in
The MHS instrument, replacing the AMSU-B instrument carried on previous
In addition, the satellite incorporates a set of ‘heritage’ instruments provided by the USA: the AVHRR radiometer for global imagery, the AMSU-A microwave sounder, the HIRS infrared sounder, an advanced Argos data collection system, a Search & Rescue package and the SEM-2 spectrometer to monitor charged particle flux in space, or so-called ‘space weather’.