Europe's all-new weather satellite arrives at launch site
After a two-week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship transporting the first Meteosat Third Generation satellite docked at Pariacabo in French Guiana and the precious cargo unloaded. Now safe and sound in one of the spaceport's cleanrooms, satellite engineers will ready it for liftoff on an Ariane 5 rocket in December. Once in geostationary orbit, this new satellite, which carries two new extremely sensitive instruments, promises to further bolster Europe's leadership in weather forecasting.
The first Meteosat Third Generation Imager, MTG-I1, along with 10 large containers of support equipment left the south of France on the MN Toucan cargo ship on 29 September bound for the Pariacabo port in Kourou, French Guiana.
James Champion, ESA's MTG-I1 launch campaign manager, said, "The team was thrilled to see the ship arrive safely at the port and soon got down to the task of transporting the precious cargo to the airlock at launch site. Here, the team cleaned the satellite container before it was moved to the cleanroom where the MTGI-1 satellite was finally rolled out of the container.
"We were equally thrilled to see that recordings of temperature, humidity, shocks and sea swell showed our satellite had had a very comfortable two weeks at sea."
Now that this all-new weather satellite is safe in the cleanroom, engineers will carry out of further checks and embark on getting it ready for liftoff.
MTG-I1 is the first of six satellites that form the full MTG system, which will provide critical data for weather forecasting over the next 20 years.
In full operations, the mission will comprise two MTG-I satellites and one MTG Sounding (MTG-S) satellites working in tandem.
The remaining satellites will eventually replace those in the first set to ensure the continuity of data for at least two decades.
The MTG mission follows on from the success of the first and second generation of Meteosat satellites, but will offer higher-resolution data more quickly and some completely new data to boot.
The MTG-I satellites carry two completely new instruments to deliver high-quality data to improve weather forecasts: a Flexible Combined Imager and Europe's first Lightning Imager.
The Flexible Combined Imager has more spectral channels and is capable of imaging in higher resolution compared to current Meteosat Second Generation's Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared instrument.
The Lightning Imager offers a completely new capability for European meteorological satellites. It will continuously monitor more than 80% of the Earth disk for lightning discharges, taking place either between clouds or between clouds and the ground.
This new instrument will allow severe storms to be detected in their early stages and will therefore be key for issuing timely warnings. Its detectors are so sensitive that will be able to detect relatively weak lightning, even in full daylight.
The MTG-I satellites also carry two smaller payloads for data collection from remote science beacons and for search and rescue by detecting emergency beacons.
With liftoff slated for December, MTG-I1 is set to be the trail blazer of this extraordinary new mission.
MTG is a cooperation between ESA and Eumetsat. ESA is responsible for the definition and implementation of the MTG satellites and procurement of recurrent hardware, while Eumetsat is in charge of operating the spacecraft throughout their lifetime.
Provided by European Space Agency