The director generals of (ESA) and EUMETSAT signed an updated agreement recently to launch the Meteorological Operational satellite (MetOp), Europe’s first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to weather and climate monitoring.
ESA will develop the space segment of the mission, while EUMETSAT will handle overall operations, including launch services. The spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan via a Russian Soyuz rocket on June 30.
EUMETSAT will own MetOp-A after liftoff, and will grant ESA access in space research and technology, including scientific and applications research, study contracts and instrument development.
The overall EUMETSAT Polar System program includes a series of three MetOp satellites, each with a nominal life in orbit of five years, to be launched sequentially over 14 years. MetOp-A will be armed with a new generation of European instruments and a set of heritage instruments supplied by the US.
The new European instruments- provided by ESA, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and EUMETSAT- will augment the accuracy of temperature and humidity measurements, wind speed and wind direction over the ocean measurements and profiles of ozone in the atmosphere.
The ESA MetOp program is funded by twelve countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The total cost of the overall system – including the three satellites, launchers and ground segment and operations – is 2.4 billion euro.