MetOp-C Weather Satellite Ready for Launch
November 5, 2018
With liftoff set for 7 November, the
latest MetOp weather satellite has been rolled out to the launch pad and
positioned on the Soyuz rocket for its ride into space from French Guiana.
MetOp-C in the launch
tower at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
MetOp-C is the last in the current series
of MetOp satellites, following on from MetOp-A and MetOp-B, which were launched
in 2006 and 2012, respectively.
Launching the satellites sequentially ensures continuous observations of a host
of atmospheric variables such as temperature, humidity, trace gases, ozone, and
wind speed over the ocean.
These data are used mainly for numerical weather prediction – the basis for
weather forecasting. Recent studies show that MetOp-A and MetOp-B have already
reduced errors in one-day forecasts by as much as 27%.
The satellites have all been developed by ESA under a cooperation agreement with
EUMETSAT for the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System. This is also
Europe’s contribution to a multi-satellite system shared with the US NOAA
While it was envisaged that each successive satellite would take over from its
predecessor, their extraordinary quality means that MetOp-A and MetOp-B are
still going strong.
Once MetOp-C has been launched and commissioned for service, EUMETSAT will have
three satellites in the same orbit, equally spaced by 120°. This will benefit
weather forecasting even more.
MetOp-C has been at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou for a few months being
carefully prepared for liftoff and its life in space.
MetOp-C Project Manager, Stéfane Carlier, said, “MetOp is a large satellite
carrying an array of instruments. Teams from ESA, EUMETSAT, Airbus Defence and
Space and instruments suppliers have been working hard to get to this point.
“We had to say good-bye when the satellite was sealed in the Soyuz fairing and
rolled out to the launch pad.
“While it is mainly in the hands of Arianespace for launch, ESA will still be
playing a role in its big day, particularly through our teams here in Kourou for
the countdown and teams at our operations centre in Germany who are responsible
for the mission’s first critical days in orbit.
“Ownership of MetOp-C will be transferred to EUMETSAT after liftoff.”
MetOp-C will liftoff on 7 November at 00:47 GMT (01:47 CET), 6 November 21:47