European Space Agency
Paris, France

9 March 1998

Meteosat Second Generation:
First view at an advanced spacecraft for weather forecasting at ESA/ESTEC on 24 March 1998

The structural and thermal model for the first spacecraft of the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) programme will be presented to the media at ESA/ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands, on Tuesday 24 March 1998 before undergoing thermal testing in the Large Space Simulator test facility.

This is an important milestone in the development of the MSG programme which is ongoing since mid-1995 and which comprises three spacecrafts:

* MSG-1, scheduled for launch in autumn 2000 which will carry as main payload an advanced radiometer and a radiation budget instrument.

* MSG-2 and MSG-3 which will then provide continuity of observation and are scheduled for launch in 2002 and 2007.

The MSG design makes effective use of the most advanced technology to significantly improve the quality of meteorological satellite data from a geostationary orbit. A new weather image will be provided every 15 minutes in 12 channels of the visible and infra-red spectrum, instead of every 30 minutes in 3 channels on the current Meteosat satellites, and with twice the resolution. This, together with enhanced data dissemination capabilities, will result in a dramatic increase in capabilities for monitoring weather patterns over the Atlantic Ocean, Europe and Africa and for the prediction and warning of severe storms and other potentially hazardous phenomena. The Meteosat Second Generation satellites will also contribute significantly to climate monitoring and Earth science research.

This series of three satellites will be launched and operated under EUMETSAT authority and is being developed by ESA and European industry, led by Aerospatiale (France) for a total amount of approximately 600 millions ECUs.


Each day in Europe, television channels broadcast weather images supplied by Meteosat satellites. The initial Meteosat system was developed by ESA and the first satellite in the series was launched in 1977. A further six Meteosat have since been launched. In January 1987, five months after it entered into force, EUMETSAT took over formal responsibility for the Meteosat system. On 1st December 1995, EUMETSAT took over from ESA the operations of Meteosat satellites from its new dedicated Control Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. EUMETSAT:

EUMETSAT is an inter-governmental organisation created in 1986. It has 17 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom). EUMETSAT's primary objective is to establish, maintain and exploit European systems of operational meteorological satellites. Member States contribute financially to new programmes on a scale based on gross national product.


The European Space Agency has 14 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). Its purpose is to provide for and promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications with a view of to their being used for scientific purposes and for space applications systems.

Meteosat Second Generation:

(Background information)

Who does not know the Meteosat geostationary meteorological satellites, the first of which was launched by ESA more than 20 years ago, on 23 November 1977? Today, ESA and EUMETSAT are cooperating in the implementation of the next series, called Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) which will ensure operational continuity for at least 12 years from 2000 to 2012.

MSG will be, like Meteosat, a spin-stabilised satellite incorporating many design improvements, including a very advanced radiometer called the "Spinning Enhanced Visible & InfraRed Imager" (SEVIRI). The ameliorations include the number of spectral channels (increased from 3 to 12), the resolution (1km in the broadband High Resolution Visible channel), and the image repeat rate (cut by a factor of two, from 30 to 15 minutes). The data circulation system will also be improved by allowing much higher data rates both for transmission (3.2 Mbps) and dissemination (1 Mbps).

The SEVIRI channels will not only provide enhanced imagery but will also allow atmospheric pseudo-sounding, which is particularly useful for weather nowcasting and short-range forecasting, but also for global numerical forecasting and climate applications.

The MSG-1 -- the first spacecraft of a family of three and scheduled for launch in autumn 2000 -- will also carry an experiment, the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB), provided on a national funding basis by a consortium led by the United Kingdom, Belgium and Italy. It will monitor the so-called "Earth radiation budget" at the top of the atmosphere from this unique point of view from space. It will measure in the 0.35-4.0 microns and 0.35-30 microns bands thus allowing calculations of the shortwave and longwave radiation, essential for the understanding of the Earth climate. MSG-1 will also finally include in its payload a Search & Rescue transponder to support humanitarian operations.

The MSG satellites will be placed in a geostationary orbit around 0 deg. longitude, as its predecessors were, but could be moved 50 deg. East or West if required. Its mass currently amounts to about 2 tons, which is more than twice the mass of the present Meteosat spacecrafts. It can be launched either by Ariane 4 or Ariane 5 and has a nominal lifetime of 7 years.

Aerospatiale is the prime contractor for the building of the MSG satellite series with Matra Marconi Space (France), Alenia Aerospazio (Italy), Daimler-Benz Aerospace/Dornier Satelliten Systeme (Germany), and SAAB Space (Sweden) as main contractors. The following ESA Member States are funding the programme and participate in the corresponding industrial consortium: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

For more information on MSG, please look at the ESA Homepage, then go to Earth Observation and to MSG.

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