Let’s talk about the weather - MSG-3 set to ensure quality of Europe’s weather service
18 Jul 2012
The latest weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful Meteosat second-generation series has been successfully launched and manoeuvred into geostationary orbit by the European Space Agency. Once fully operational it will ensure that Europe and Africa continue to receive up-to-date weather coverage. MSG-3 is especially valuable in rapid detection and warning of extreme weather situations.
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MSG-3 being launched on an Ariane rocket.
Credit: ESA/VNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG.
The satellite was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on Thursday, 5 July from Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. It was manouvered into position over 11 days and has now been handed over to its manufacturer, Eumetsat to ensure it is fully functional and delivers high-quality products for weather forecasting.
ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain commented, “These programmes have ensured high-quality weather forecasts, the successive generations have improved these forecasts and they have brought tangible economic benefits for and improving the daily life of every European. Two generations have now been developed by ESA and EUMETSAT.”
The UK made a significant investment in the MSG series. The Met Office invested £89M to fund operating costs and a further £6M was contributed by the government towards the programme development. There has been a significant return on this investment with involvement from over 50 science and industry partners from the UK.
On board the MSG-3 is the 200th instrument built by RAL Space to be launched. The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget instrument (GERB) was built by a UK consortium led by RAL Space. This landmark demonstrates the proficiency of the UK’s space industry in developing world class science instruments.
RAL Space Director Professor Richard Holdaway commented about the launch: “The GERB project has had two instruments operating successfully for the last ten years, and this third instrument will allow observation to continue for another 5 years. GERB has allowed scientists to study the Earth Radiation Budget in much more detail than any other instrument, and I am very proud of the technical leadership provided by RAL Space.”
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Artists impression of Meteosat Second Generation (MSG).
Credit: ESA/D. Ducros.
The GERB sensor will measure the amount of solar energy that is radiated back into space to determine how much energy is introduced into the climate system and to provide insights into the atmospheric circulation between the day and night sides.
Eumetsat will commission the satellite over the next six months. When fully operational, MSG-3 will become Meteosat-10. It will ensure the continuity of the present service. The next generation of weather satellites, Meteosat Third Generation, are under development and should be operational at the end of the decade.
The MetOp series of polar-orbiting weather satellites are also operated by Eumetsat and also strengthen Europe’s weather and climate watch. The MetOp Second Generation series is to be submitted to the ESA Ministerial Council in November for approval.
Read more about the MSG-3 launch.