Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
19 October 2006
and United Kingdom
Parent System: MetOp
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 19 October 2006
Total Production: 3
Total Cost: USD$2.8 billion
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Description: MetOp is a low earth/polar orbiting meteorological observation and climate monitoring satellite built by EADS Astrium for the European Space Agency (ESA) and Europe's weather satellite organization EUMETSAT. MetOp has been developed in cooperation with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). MetOp will consist of three satellites to be launched at 4.5 years interval beginning on June 30 2006 to remain in service at least for a 14-year period. Each MetOp satellite is equipped with 12 state-of-the-art instruments which are critical to accomplish its weather forecasting mission. In addition MetOp satellites will provide support to search and rescue and charged particles monitoring in the low Earth orbit environment.
MetOp spacecraft has a service life of approximately 5 years at a sun synchronous orbit of between 800 to 850 kilometers of altitude. With a mass of four tons the satellite is 6.3x2.5x2.5 meters wide fitted into the launch vehicle and 17.6x6.6x5.0 meters when it has been successfully deployed into orbit. Solar panels provide a power supply of 1,813 watts. MetOp also features a three-axis stabilization system. The spacecrqaft is equipped with an omnidirectional S-band antenna and the data is sent to the ground segment via an X-band data link rated at 70 Mbps. The program is valued at 2.4 billion Euro with the ESA funding 1.85 billion and EUMETSAT 550 million. The program includes three satellites, the ground segment, the launch vehicles and operational costs.
EADS Astrium Germany is responsible for two main instruments on MetOp the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) and the GNSS Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding (GRAS). ASCAT is an active radar instrument which measures wind speed and direction over the open sea. It also provides data for ice and snow coverage as well as surface moisture. ASCAT measurements are independent of daylight and clouds which is particularly useful in the Polar Regions. ASCAT will scan two 500 kilometer wide corridors and can, therefore, provide almost global coverage within 24 hours.
GRAS, built under the responsibility of EADS Astrium by Saab Ericsson, is a receiver for the signals from the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). The signals are affected by the atmosphere of the Earth, and after processing provide atmospheric data such as temperature, water vapor and pressure. Furthermore GRAS provides navigation measurement data to support the precise orbit determination of the Metop satellite. The Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) was designed and built by EADS Astrium in Portsmouth in the UK for EUMETSAT. MHS scans the Earth's atmosphere to measure emitted radiation in various spectra bands and from this can determine the water vapor content (clouds, precipitation, humidity) at various altitudes.
The first MetOp polar-orbiting satellite was launched 19 October 2006 at Baikonur by Starsem using a Soyuz space launch vehicle.
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