Europe's next weather satellite gears up for launch

March 20, 2012
MetOp-B being readied for testing after arriving at the launch facilities at Baikonur. Credits: ESA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Following the safe arrival of the MetOp-B weather satellite in Kazakhstan, the sophisticated craft is now being carefully assembled and tested before launch on 23 May. MetOp-B will provide essential data for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

Developed as a joint undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat, the MetOp programme comprises a series of three identical satellites for continuous observations until 2020.

The first in the series, MetOp-A, was launched in 2006 and marked a new era in operational meteorology – it was Europe’s first to orbit Earth from pole to pole.

It is now time to launch the second in the series: MetOp-B.

The shipment from France to Kazakhstan was made by three Antonov AN 124/100 cargo aircraft. The first carried 12 containers of equipment needed to prepare the satellite for launch, the second carried the MetOp-B satellite plus six containers and the third flight carried the solar array along with 10 more containers of equipment. The shipments were transported from the airfield to the Baikonur Cosmodrome by train. Bad weather caused difficulties for all three flights. The flight carrying the satellite was held up in Moscow for three days because of snow. Credits: ESA

The satellites carry a host of sensitive instruments to provide key information on a wide range of variables such as temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction over oceans, ozone and other atmospheric gases for numerical weather prediction and monitoring.

With MetOp-A still in service, the two satellites will orbit in tandem, increasing the wealth of data even further.

MetOp-B arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 6 March after being transported from Toulouse, France on an Antonov cargo aircraft.

Two separate flights carried the ’s solar array and the supporting equipment that is being used to prepare the satellite for launch.

MetOp-B will be launched on a Soyuz rocket with a Fregat upper stage.

Now that the satellite and support equipment has been unpacked and inspected to make sure that it wasn’t damaged in transit, it will spend the next weeks being thoroughly tested before being encapsulated in the rocket fairing.

The MetOp-B satellite payload module being lowered onto the trolley for its first inspection after arrival at the launch facilities in Baikonur. The satellite service module in the corner of the cleanroom to the right. The satellite will spend the coming weeks being tested before being encapsulated in the fairing and joining a Soyuz rocket. MetOp-B is scheduled to be launched on 23 May. Credits: ESA

“We are extremely pleased to see MetOp-B arrive safely at the launch facilities,” said Luciano Di Napoli, ESA’s project manager.

“The next weeks are extremely important to make sure this advanced satellite is in perfect condition for .”

The MetOp satellites are built by a European consortium led by EADS Astrium.

The MetOp programme is Europe’s contribution to a cooperative venture with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The satellites are designed to work in conjunction with the NOAA satellite system, flying in complementary orbits to offer maximum coverage.

Explore further: MetOp satellite shipped to Baikonur on 18 April

Related Stories

MetOp satellite shipped to Baikonur on 18 April

April 19, 2006

The first MetOp meteorological satellite arrived yesterday at its launch site, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, following shipment from the industrial prime contractor, EADS Astrium in Toulouse, on board an Antonov-124 ...

MetOp to be launched in October

August 7, 2006

MetOp, the first in the new European series of operational meteorological satellites in polar orbit, is now scheduled for launch on 7 October 2006. The new date was established last week following various planning meetings ...

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.

ESA: Oct. 17 launch date for MetOp

October 5, 2006

The European Space Agency says a new date has been set for the launch of MetOp, designed to become Europe's first polar-orbiting satellite.

ESA's MetOp launch again aborted

October 18, 2006

The launch of the European Space Agency's MetOp satellite was postponed Wednesday for the fifth time with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the countdown.

MetOp-B module passes crucial vacuum test

August 3, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Payload Module of ESA's latest meteorological satellite, MetOp-B, has been hauled out of the largest vacuum chamber in Europe: its ability to operate in the harsh conditions of space has been proved.

Recommended for you

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.