Forecasters look forward to better data

Monday 22nd Nov 2010 by theWeather Club

A contract has been signed allowing an industrial consortium to begin work on a new generation of Meteosat weather spacecraft for Europe. Six satellites will be built giving forecasters up-to-the-minute data on developing weather systems. The research and development part of the programme was approved by governments in 2008, but political wrangling delayed its start. Thales Alenia Space (France) and OHB System (Germany) have now been given the go-ahead.

Eumetsat, the international agency that looks after Europe's Meteosats, will operate the platforms when they get into orbit, scheduled to be happen from 2018. "We are extremely happy and proud to meet the challenge of building the most ambitious geostationary satellites ever developed in Europe," Reynald Seznec, president and CEO of Thales Alenia Space (TAS), said in a statement.

Meteosat Third Generation (MTG), as the new satellites are known, comprises two types of spacecraft - an imaging satellite to take pictures of weather systems, and a sounding spacecraft that can gather information from different layers in the atmosphere. Four imaging spacecraft and two sounding satellites will eventually be built and their launches will be phased to maintain coverage through to about 2040. The new spacecraft will be quite unlike their forebears, supplying much higher quality information. Data from the new generation satellites will have a much higher resolution and will come down in a fraction of the time.