Friday, March 18, 2011

ESA MetOp: Second Generation

To ensure that a continuous flow of accurate and timely satellite data is available to forecast the weather and study climate change in the coming decades, ESA is looking to the future by preparing the next generation of MetOp satellites.

The current MetOp series has three identical satellites. Launched in 2006, MetOp-A is Europe's first polar-orbiting mission dedicated to operational meteorology, and will be followed by MetOp-B in 2012 and MetOp-C in 2016.

These first three MetOp satellites guarantee the continuous delivery of high-quality data for medium- and long-term weather forecasting and for climate monitoring until at least 2020.

To ensure this supply of meteorological data from polar orbit is carried though to the decades beyond 2020, ESA has recently embarked upon the initial steps towards developing concepts for the next generation of MetOp satellites.

Europe's commitment to improving the accuracy of weather forecasts goes back almost 35 years. However, until the launch of MetOp-A, these satellites were all placed in geostationary orbit, 36 000 km above the equator.
This vantage point offers a large view of part of the planet to monitor rapidly evolving weather patterns for short-term forecasting.
By orbiting Earth much closer to home and from pole to pole, MetOp can achieve global coverage in a few days.

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