Germany: On 20 May, the first documents signalling the go-ahead for Europe’s fleet of MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) weather satellites were signed in the presence of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Berlin Air Show.
Set to debut in 2021, this next generation will comprise three pairs of satellites to secure essential information for weather forecasting through the decades beyond. The agreement was signed by Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, and Michael Menking, Head of Airbus Defence & Space’s Earth Observation, Navigation and Science Programmes.
The programme is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. MetOp-SG will provide continuity and enhancement of meteorological data with improved spectral and spatial resolution compared to the measurements currently provided by the first generation of MetOp satellites. A complete range of observations will be realised using 10 different instruments, covering ultra-violet, visible, infrared and microwave spectral bands.
MetOp-SG comprises two series of satellites. The type ‘A’ satellites mainly carry optical instruments while the type ‘B’ satellites focus on microwave sensors. The first MetOp satellite, MetOp-A, was launched in 2006, followed by MetOp-B in 2012. MetOp-C will be added in 2018 to guarantee the continuous delivery of readings for medium- and long-term weather forecasting and for climate monitoring until the launch of the MetOp-SG satellites.
With the first contractual documents now signed, the ‘A’ satellites will be developed and built by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, while the ‘B’ satellites will be developed and built at the company’s facilities in Friedrichshafen, Germany. However, under the leadership of Airbus Defence and Space, a large industrial consortium of many different companies around Europe will be involved.
Each satellite will be launched separately. It is envisaged that the first, an ‘A’ satellite, will liftoff in 2021, followed by the first ‘B’ satellite in 2022.
Source: ESA and Airbus Defence and Space