The European Space Agency (ESA) just launched its second polar-orbiting weather satellite into space. The MetOp-B satellite, which is about the size of a bus, will ensure the continuity of the weather and atmospheric monitoring service provided by its predecessor MetOp-A. The older satellite has been circling the globe from pole to pole, 14 times a day, since 2006 and it has now exceeded its design lifetime. Upon deployment in space, MetOp-B will deliver next-generation weather imagery and global information about the planet’s ever-changing climate systems.

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Speaking about the satellite’s potential, SA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said: “The launch of this second Metop satellite has taken place about two and a half months after that of MSG-3; this is a perfect illustration of the vitality of Europe’s weather satellite programmes developed in cooperation between ESA and EUMETSAT. The fact that the next generation satellites in line are already being prepared by ESA shows the strong commitment of Member States of both organizations to continue and improve collecting data that are supporting not only weather-forecasting but also monitoring and understanding of climate change. Such services are demonstrating daily the economical and societal value of investing in space infrastructure.”

Dordain’s feelings were echoed by Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes who added: “Metop-B will become operational while Metop-A is still active and performing well. This will ensure the continuity of the service without any risk of interruption in the data feed. Meanwhile, we are working with EUMETSAT to prepare the future with the second generation of European polar satellites.”

What makes the MetOp satellite different from other weather satellites is that it works at a much lower altitude and can fly over the whole globe to provide additional data on the atmosphere. MetOp-B will also be part of ESA’s effort on climate watch, which includes the experimental Earth Explorer satellites, to probe Earth and its atmosphere.

+ European Space Agency

Via Gizmodo