ESA sets MetOp-A launch date

September 14, 2006

The European Space Agency says the launch of MetOp-A, the first in a new European series of three meteorological satellites, will be Oct. 7.

The satellite, designed to monitor the Earth's atmosphere from polar orbit, will lift off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will complement Europe's Meteosat satellites that are already positioned in geostationary orbit.

The MetOp series will form the European part of an integrated system to be deployed jointly with NASA to provide better weather and climate information.

The MetOp satellite series is a joint program being carried out by the Paris-based ESA and the European Meteorological Satellite Organization, with the latter to operate the spacecraft once they are in orbit.

The MetOp satellites will circle the Earth from pole to pole at an altitude of about 507 miles (817 kilometers), collecting high-resolution data to complement the hemispheric survey of the atmosphere conducted from geostationary orbit by the Meteosat system.

The U.S. satellites will operate the "afternoon shift," crossing the equator during the afternoon, local time, with Europe's MetOp taking over the "morning orbit" service.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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