Europe's next-gen polar weather satellites pair up

Metop-A (Esa) Metop-A was launched in 2006

Related Stories

The next-generation of Europe's polar orbiting weather satellites will fly in a two-spacecraft configuration.

Eumetsat, the organisation that operates Europe's weather observatories, took the decision at its latest council meeting in Rome.

It will allow additional instruments to be flown, producing even more data for numerical weather prediction models.

The Eumetsat Polar System, Second Generation (EPS-2G), will be a multi-billion euro programme.

However, the cost is likely to be comparable with the current system which had a total envelope of about 2.4bn euros.

The two-spacecraft configuration and the possible instrument payloads will be considered in the initial feasibility study.

The present EPS has so far launched just the one platform, Metop-A, which went into space in 2006.

Two reserve satellites, Metop-B and Metop-C, are built and held in storage. They are likely to fly in 2012 and 2016 to give continuity to the programme.

Eruption plume

Metop-A is generally regarded as having been a remarkable step forward in monitoring capability for Europe.

It was the first European weather satellite to circle the Earth via the poles. Eumetsat's familiar Meteosat class of observatories sit in geostationary orbits (GEO) some 36,000km above the equator. From this position, the Meteosats can image half of the Earth's surface every 15 minutes.

Metop, on the other hand, takes high-resolution pictures of the whole planet over a much longer time span, between one and three days.

Its 12-instrument payload (eight of the instruments gather meteorological data) monitors variables such as temperature, humidity, wind velocity, ozone cover and atmospheric chemistry.

Metop-A played a critical role is assessing the progress of the ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April.

The latest Eumetsat council has also approved the scope of the next-generation of the Meteosat series. This, too, will fly a two-satellite configuration for the first time.

Both of the new programmes will be developed in conjunction with the European Space Agency.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Science & Environment stories

RSS

Features

  • Shinji Mikamo as a boy, and Hiroshima bomb cloudLove and the bomb

    The Japanese man who lost everything but found peace


  • Northern League supporters at the party's annual meeting in 2011Padania?

    Eight places in Europe that also want independence


  • scottie dogShow-stealers

    How Scottie dogs became a symbol of Scotland


  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet


  • The outermost coffin of Tutankhamun 'Tut-mania'

    How discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb changed popular culture


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.