Minimize Meteosat Second Generation

Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) Spacecraft Series

Spacecraft     Launch    Mission Status     Sensor Complement    Ground Segment    References

The first generation Meteosat series (Meteosat-1 to -7) of EUMETSAT is gradually being replaced by a second generation series (MSG) with a launch of the first satellite MSG-1 on Aug. 28, 2002, to be followed by three more satellites, ensuring operational continuity in GEO for at least 16 years. MSG-1 became Meteosat-8 on Jan. 29, 2004 when the mission was declared “operational” (i.e., commencement of routine operations after the end of the commissioning phase).

Note: Prior to launch, the satellite series is referred to as MSG. EUMETSAT assigns a new name, namely “Meteosat-x” after launch and after on-orbit commissioning starting with the commencement of routine operational services

The MSG program definition started in 1993, the phase C/D began in 1995. The program is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) according to the following share of responsibilities:

• ESA is responsible for designing and developing the first of the four satellites in the MSG program (the fourth S/C of the MSG series was approved in 2003).

• EUMETSAT has overall responsibility for defining the end-user requirements, developing the ground segment and procuring the launchers. EUMETSAT is also the operator of the MSG system. EUMETSAT is contributing about 30% of the development costs for MSG-1 and fully financing the three subsequent flight units (MSG-2, MSG-3, and MSG-4).


Figure 1: Artist's rendition of the MeteoSat-8 satellite (image credit: EUMETSAT)

The MSG program is planned as a two-satellite operational service, like the first-generation Meteosat system, where one satellite is available in orbit as a spare. The MSG system provides the user community with continuity of services from the first-generation Meteosat system, but with significantly enhanced services and products. MSG is designed to support nowcasting, very short and short range forecasting, numerical weather forecasting and climate applications over Europe and Africa, with the following mission objectives:

• Multispectral imaging of the cloud systems, the Earth surface and radiance emitted by the atmosphere, with improved radiometric, spectral, spatial and temporal resolution as compared to the first generation Meteosat

• Extraction of meteorological and geophysical fields from the satellite image data for the support of general meteorological, climatological and environmental activities

• Data collection of data from data collection platforms (DCP)

• Dissemination of the satellite image data and meteorological information upon processing to the user community in a timely manner for the support of nowcasting and very short range forecasting

• Support to secondary payloads of scientific or pre-operational nature (GERB) and Search & Rescue (called GEOSAR) in supporting operations which are not directly relevant to the MSG program

• Support to the primary missions (e.g. archiving of data generated by the system MSG, for successful operation of the system etc.).


The MSG satellites are being built by a European industrial consortium led by Alcatel Space Industries (ASI) of France. MSG satellites are spin-stabilized (cylindrical in shape, similar to the first generation S/C series) with a rotation speed of 100 rpm. The S/C body is a cylindrical-shaped solar drum, 3.2 m in diameter and 3.7 m in height (2.4 m body height) with stepped cylinder. The major subsystems of the platform are: AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem), EPS (Electrical Power Subsystem), UPS (Unified Propulsion Subsystem), and DHSS (Data Handling Subsystem). 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

• AOCS: Attitude is measured by means of Earth sensors and sun sensors. AND (Active Nutation Damping) is used during GTO; there is no AND in the GEO phase. In addition, AOCS provides synchronization signals to keep the SEVIRI, GERB, and the electronically de-spun antenna Earth-pointing.

• EPS (Electrical Power Subsystem): Solar power of 600 W EOL is provided to the S/C bus 28 V power bus. Two NiCd batteries provide 1200 Wh for ecliptic operations support. The solar array is composed of 8 body mounted panels, based on CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Panel) substrate. The solar network utilizes 7854 Silicon High Eta cells delivering a beginning of life power of 740 W. 6)

• UPS: A bi-propellant unified propulsion system of two 400 N apogee engines are used for a 3-burn insertion from GTO into GEO. Four tanks hold up to 976 kg of propellant. About 810 kg are used for the GEO insertion of MSG.

• DHSS: The system consists of three units: CDMU (Central Data Management Unit) and two RTUs (Remote Terminal Units). CDMU and RTUs are interconnected via the serial standard OBDH (On-Board Data Handling) data bus of ESA.

The software design of the S/C provides a high level of onboard autonomy, the main requirement being spacecraft survival after a single onboard failure during 24 hours without ground intervention. This implies an elaborate FDIR (Failure Detection, Isolation and Recovery) capability, allowing to detect any malfunction and perform the necessary recovery/reconfiguration action autonomously. It also implies a high level of robustness against failure of the CDMU proper, which requires the autonomous switch-over of the processor unit and a restart with context saving of the onboard software. Special emphasis was also put on the possibility to easily modify the monitoring parameters and thresholds and the corrective actions triggered by the monitoring, without having to resort to software patches. Instead, specific telecommands were introduced for the modification of these parameters.

The satellite itself is built in a modular way around three main sub-assemblies: The SEVIRI instrument is located in the central compartment; the communication payload, including antennas and transponders, are positioned in the upper compartment; while the platform support subsystems are located in the lower compartment. The S/C design life is seven years. Total S/C mass = 2040 kg, power = 600 W (EOL).

Launch: MSG-1 was launched on Aug. 28, 2002. Ariane-5 launch from Kourou along with the Eutelsat communications satellite Atlantic Bird 1.

Orbit: Geostationary orbit at 3.5º W longitude (held to within 1º by thrusters) over the equator.

Launch: MSG-2 was launched on Dec. 22, 2005 to provide a two-satellite operational system [two satellites are simultaneously in orbit (one operating and one in cold redundancy) to assure availability].

Application: Operational meteorology and climate monitoring. The Meteosat program is part of WWW (World Weather Watch) satellite network of WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the largest and most important technical and research program of WMO. Besides improving weather forecasting, all fields of human endeavor which depend upon meteorological phenomena (agriculture, oceanography, hydrology, air traffic, civil engineering ...) profit by the Meteosat imagery.

Spacecraft launch mass

2040 kg

Spacecraft power

600 W (EOL)

Spacecraft dimensions

2.4 m (cylinder height), 3.7 m total height, 3.2 m diameter

Spacecraft design life

7 years

Bi-propellant unified propulsion system

Two 400 N apogee engines for S/C transport from GTO into GEO

Table 1: Overview of some MSG spacecraft parameters

Launch: The MSG-3 spacecraft (~2000 kg) was launched on July 5, 2012 on Ariane-5 ECA from Kourou along with EchoStar-XVII (6100 kg), a broadband Ka-band S/C for the American operator Hughes Network Systems. The objective of MSG-3 is to replace the ageing Meteosat-8 and secure continuity of the operational services from the geostationary orbit. 7)


Figure 2: The MSG spacecraft in orbit with the main payload SEVIRI (image credit: ESA)

Launch: MSG-4, the last weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) series lifted off on an Ariane 5 launcher at 21:42 GMT (23:42 CEST) on 15 July 2015 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (Ref. 53).

After launch, MSG-4 will be stored in orbit. It will be named Meteosat-11 when it becomes operational to bridge the gap between Meteosat-10 and the initial MTG-1 (Meteosat Third Generation-1) spacecraft – which are scheduled to be orbited in 2019 and 2021.


Figure 3: Blowup of the MSG structure showing the main components of the S/C and its payload (image credit: EUMETSAT)

Mission status of MSG spacecraft series

• April 22, 2022: Each year on 22 April, people across the planet join forces to raise awareness about the depleting quality of the environment, the unequivocal effects of climate change and the importance of protecting our planet for future generations. We celebrate Earth Day every day at ESA. This week, this spectacular image of Earth is brought to you by the Meteosat Second Generation series of missions. 8)

- Thanks to satellites in orbit, we can understand the intricacies of the Earth system and answer important questions on how natural processes are changing due to the everyday pressure of human activity. Satellites provide essential information for everyday applications, improving agricultural practices, to help when disasters strike, and thanks to the Meteosat series, provide crucial data for weather forecasting.

- The image of Figure 4 is crucial for nowcasting, which is about detecting rapidly high impact weather and predicting its evolution a few hours ahead, in support of the safety of life and property. These observations are also used for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

- The Meteosat missions have guaranteed the continuous flow of data for weather forecasting since 1977, and later this year, we will soon begin a new era in weather and climate monitoring with Meteosat Third Generation (MTG).

- The third generation will not only guarantee the continuity of data for weather forecasting, but offer significant enhancement of the current imager capabilities, an all-new infrared sounding capability and real-time lightning imaging for early detection of severe storms as they develop.

- For the overall MTG mission two types of satellite are being developed; the Imaging satellite (MTG-I) and the Sounding Satellite (MTG-S). MTG-I1 is currently at Thales Alenia Space’s facilities in Cannes, France, undergoing an extensive testing campaign to ensure that the satellite will survive the rigours of the launch and the hostile environment of space.

- MTG is a cooperation between ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (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 its lifetime as well as data retrieval, processing and distribution.


Figure 4: Given that extreme weather and severe storms pose significant and increasing hazards to society, the Meteosat satellites provide detailed, full disc imagery over Europe and Africa every 15 minutes and rapid scan imagery over Europe every five minutes (image credit: ESA, METEOSAT)

Figure 5: To celebrate Earth Day, this week's edition of the Earth from Space programme features a spectacular image of Earth captured by Meteosat Second Generation (video credit: ESA)

• May 20, 2020: Travel restrictions put in place to stem the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-19) pandemic have led to a massive decline in global air traffic since mid-March 2020. The European air traffic control authority, EUROCONTROL has reported that the volume of European air traffic in April 2020 declined by almost 90 percent compared to the beginning of the previous month. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now analyzed the impact of reduced air traffic on the formation of condensation trails over Europe by measuring cloud properties. They used data acquired on 16 April 2020 by the ‘Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager' (SEVIRI) sensor on a Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) weather satellite for this purpose. On that day, the atmosphere over Europe was cold and humid enough for long-lasting condensation trails to form behind aircraft. The analyses show a decrease in the number of contrails formed to about one tenth, compared to normal operations. 9)

- "Observations of the now-reduced condensation trail coverage allow us to verify the accuracy of the data analyses afforded by MSG weather satellites and the models that we use, so that we can determine the climate impact of condensation trails in greater detail in future," explains Christiane Voigt of the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Oberpfaffenhofen. "Since, in addition to carbon dioxide emissions, condensation trails are responsible for approximately half of the climate impact of air transport, we would expect that so little air traffic would result in a marked decrease in the climate impact." Regular global air traffic has hitherto been responsible for approximately five percent of global warming.

- The researchers compared the satellite measurements with a model developed at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics, which calculates the coverage made up of natural clouds and cirrus clouds produced by aircraft contrails, based on current air traffic movements and weather data. Luca Bugliaro and Ulrich Schumann from the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics explain: "The findings based on the satellite imagery were largely consistent with the model data, and the model reflects the regional structures and gives a good representation of the measured values of the optical thicknesses of clouds." In addition, the scientists used the model to calculate a scenario with an air traffic volume 10 times higher, as it would have been on the same day in 2019, with the meteorological conditions kept the same in order to pinpoint the effect of traffic levels alone. The calculations clearly show far greater coverage from contrail cirrus clouds, with an increased optical thickness of the ice clouds. Weighted with the optical thicknesses, the degree of coverage of the partially overlapping contrails would be four times greater.

- Over the coming months, scientists want to determine more precisely how the reduced coverage due to contrails and the related cirrus clouds will affect Earth's radiation budget, using more satellite data and analyses. To do this, measures include comparing the thermal radiation emitted by Earth, measured from space, with the incident solar radiation. "In this special situation, when there is very little air traffic, we hope to be able to directly demonstrate the effect of the decrease in condensation trails on Earth's heat balance through a large number of measurements," explains Markus Rapp, Director of the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics.


Figure 6: An almost 90 percent reduction in fuel consumption by air traffic in the upper airspace over Europe on 16 April 2020 (bottom) compared to the same time last year (bottom), calculated from EUROCONTROL data (image credit: EUROCONTROL/DLR)

Tiny ice crystals in cold air

- Condensation trails consist largely of tiny ice crystals that form in cold air (at temperatures below approximately minus 42 degrees Celsius) from the exhaust gases of aircraft. First, water vapor condenses on soot particles in the exhaust gases, forming tiny water droplets. As they mix with the air, the droplets quickly cool and freeze to form ice crystals. If the surrounding air is sufficiently damp (oversaturated with ice), the ice crystals absorb water from their environment, grow, spread out and take on cloud-like shapes, which wrap around Earth like a scarf.

- These contrail cirrus clouds keep some of the Earth's heat radiation within the atmosphere and thus have a warming effect on the climate. However, as they also reflect sunlight, they have a cooling effect at times. At present, the degree to which contrail cirrus clouds contribute towards the overall radiative forcing by air traffic is of a similar magnitude to the effect of carbon dioxide, which has been emitted by aircraft since the very beginning of aviation. Unlike carbon dioxide, which has a lifetime of over 100 years within the atmosphere, contrails usually dissipate within a matter of minutes or hours, so their climate impact is rapidly reduced if there is a decrease in air traffic. DLR is also investigating how contrails can be avoided by routing flights around areas of humid air.

- Changes to the chemical composition of the atmosphere due to reduced air traffic are also to be researched during an upcoming aircraft mission with the Falcon and HALO research aircraft.


Figure 7: Thin ice clouds are shown as a white and pale grey pattern towards the top of the images, which illustrates radiation temperatures. Condensation trails are also visible here – white stripes indicate thick but still-young contrails. Older contrails overlap with one another and other clouds and are no longer visible as streaks. The upper image shows radiation temperature differences from the 10.8 and 12 µm channels of the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) weather satellite, using the SEVIRI sensor, at 10:00 UTC on 16 April 2020. The lower image shows a false color composite image of visible and infrared measurement data from the MSG/SEVIRI instrument for the same meteorological conditions (image credit: EUMETSAT/DLR)

• September 2018: In geostationary orbit of ~36,000 km above the equator, the Meteosat satellites — Meteosat-8, -9, -10 and -11 — operate over Europe, Africa and the Indian Ocean. These services are vital to ensure the safety of lives, property and infrastructure, particularly in situations of severe weather. 10)

- Meteosat-11 is the prime operational geostationary satellite, positioned at 0 º and providing full disc imagery every 15 minutes. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring and Data Collection Platform relay service.

- Meteosat-10 provides the Rapid Scanning Service, delivering more frequent images every five minutes over parts of Europe, Africa and adjacent seas. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring.

- Meteosat-9 provides a backup service to Meteosat-11 Full Earth scanning and a gap filling service to Meteosat-10 Rapid Scanning.

- Meteosat-8 operates over the Indian Ocean performing Full Earth scanning. It also provides Search and Rescue monitoring and Data Collection Platform relay service (which includes relay of Tsunami warnings).

- Each Meteosat satellite is expected to remain in orbit, in an operable condition for at least seven years. The current policy is to keep two operable satellites in orbit and to launch a new satellite close to the date when the fuel in the elder of the two starts to run out. After the end of the MSG lifetime there will be a follow-on series — MTG (Meteosat Third Generation).






15/07/2015 – Availability
lifetime is until 2024

36,000 km

0º Service including Data Collection Service and Web Imagery.
Replaced Meteosat-10 at 0º on 20 February 2018.


05/07/2012 – Availability
lifetime is until 2024

9.5º E
36,000 km

Rapid Scanning Service. Replaced Meteosat-9
RSS on 20 March 2018.


Fuel lifetime is until 2024

3.5º E
36,000 km

Rapid Scan Service gap filling and
back-up spacecraft since 20 March 2018.


Fuel lifetime is until 2024

41.5º E
36,000 km

Indian Ocean Data Coverage Service including Data Collection
Service and Web Imagery. Replaced Meteosat-7 on 01 February 2018.

Table 2: Current Meteosat Satellites

• February 20, 2018: The newest of EUMETSAT’s MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) spacecraft – Meteosat-11 – has been moved to its new position at 0° longitude is now sending images of the full disc, or hemisphere, every 15 minutes. 11)

- The reason for the repositioning of Meteosat-9, -10 and -11 is to ensure the best possible configuration of the satellites, which monitor severe weather over Europe and Africa, and provide crucial data about the climate.

• Meteosat-11 moving to 0° longitude, where it has taken over responsibility for the prime “full disc” service which has been performed by Meteosat-10. This service provides an image of the whole of Europe and Africa and parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans every 15 minutes. This also includes the GERB instrument data collection, the search and rescue service, the data collection platform service, and low rate information (Image) transmission service.

• Meteosat-10 has already started moving from 0° to 9.5°E, where it will take over the Rapid Scan Service from Meteosat-9. The Rapid Scan Service provides an image of Europe only, every five minutes. This will also include taking over the search and rescue service.

• Meteosat-9 will move from 9.5°E to 3.5°E, where it will act as a back-up to the other two satellites

Meteosat-11 (launched on 15 July 2015) is the last of EUMETSAT’s MSG satellites. Preparations are well underway for the deployment of the first of the MTG (Meteosat Third Generation) satellites in 2021, which will herald a new era in operational meteorology and climate monitoring.

Table 3: The maneuvers and mission swaps involved

• December 6, 2017: At its 88th session, the EUMETSAT Council agreed to exploit the Meteosat second generation (MSG) and EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) satellite systems for another seven years and opened the votes enabling the 30 Member States to formalize associated financial commitments in the course of 2018. 12)

- These decisions reflect the substantial impact of observations from Meteosat and MetOp satellites on weather forecasts at all ranges and take into account the latest assessment of the performances and foreseen lifetime of all satellites in orbit and the forthcoming launch of the last Metop satellite (MetOp-C) planned in the autumn 2018.

- The Council also approved two ground segment contracts for the next generation Meteosat Third Generation and Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 systems currently under development.

- The IDPF-S (Instrument Data Processing Facility-Sounding) will process data from the IRS Infrared sounder and the Copernicus UVN/Sentinel-4 ultraviolet and near infrared sounder embarked on the Meteosat Third Generation sounding (MTG-S) satellites. The first of these satellites, MTG-S1, will be launched in 2023, two years after the first MTG imaging satellite, MTG-I1.

- The PDAP (Payload Data Acquisition and Processing) component of the Jason-CS ground segment will acquire data from the Copernicus Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 satellite and perform end-to-end processing. The development of the PDAP is funded by the EUMETSAT Jason-CS program, the organization’s contribution to the cooperative development of Copernicus Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission, involving also ESA, NASA, NOAA and the European Union through its Copernicus program. The first Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 satellite is planned for launch at the end of 2020.

Forty years of Meteosat — On 23 November 1977, ESA’s first Earth observation satellite was launched on a Delta 2914 Vehicle from Cape Canaveral, FL. When Meteosat-1 satellite took its place in the sky, it completed coverage from geostationary orbit and laid the foundations for European and world cooperation in meteorology that continues today. 13) 14) 15)

- A succession of Meteosats: The Meteosat program always has one satellite in the operational position at 0° longitude. Additional satellites are currently over Africa and the Indian Ocean, while the last of the MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) satellites is being stored in orbit. The MSG spacecraft kept the drum-shaped design of the original but is two and a half times larger and offers improved resolution, 12 spectral channels as opposed to three on the original system, and faster scanning. Meanwhile, on the ground, the MTG (Meteosat Third Generation) is in development, with new capabilities such as lightning detection, and will guarantee continued European monitoring of the atmosphere from space from 2021 onwards into the 2030s.


Figure 8: Meteosat-1 was launched on a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral and moved to its nominal operational location over the equator at 0º longitude. The check-out of all systems was followed within a month by the start of routine image acquisition and distribution. This immediately became part of the operational system for weather forecasting across many countries in Europe (image credit: ESA)

• April 28, 2017: When American astronaut Alfred Worden, who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971, was asked what he was feeling at that time, he replied: “Now I know why I’m here. Not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.” 16)

- Need for accuracy: EUMETSAT operates a fleet of meteorological and climate monitoring satellites and processes and disseminates data and products from the instruments they carry to users such as the National Meteorological Services of its Member States, researchers and to users of the EU’s (European Union) flagship environmental program, Copernicus.

- These users require highly accurate data. EUMETSAT Remote Sensing Scientist in charge of calibration of visible and near-infrared bands Dr. Sébastien Wagner said that, in the case of monitoring and detecting the signatures of climate change, small radiometric signals can have large policy implications. For this purpose, it is crucial that satellites’ instruments are calibrated with high accuracy – ideally within a few tenths of a percent. As satellites’ onboard instruments degrade over time, real changes on the Earth’s surface must be distinguished from changes in a sensor’s response, Wagner said.

- Why use the Moon as a calibration target? Features including the Moon’s lack of atmosphere and the stability of the lunar surface give it a number of advantages over using sites on Earth to calibrate instruments in space. “The Moon is a target that is extremely stable and for which you can really predict its illumination,” Wagner said. “You can model the signal that will come from the Moon and that gives you the possibility to monitor the way your instruments are degrading with time.” The Moon’s changes in brightness are periodic and predictable, and it can also be observed from any Earth orbit, although some maneuvers might be required of low-Earth-orbiting satellites. However, to use the Moon as a calibration target, a model is needed to predict its brightness under any observational conditions.

- The Lunar Calibration Reference: To develop such a model, continuous observations of the lunar cycle, under clear observational conditions, and the ability to control in time the calibration of the telescopes making the observations, are necessary. USGS (United States Geological Survey) developed the ROLO (Robotic Lunar Observatory) to support NASA’s Earth observation missions, using two telescopes with 32 spectral bands altogether over a period of about eight years. This USGS ROLO model is the current standard for lunar calibration. To take another step forward towards using a common and agreed lunar calibration reference based on the USGS ROLO model has been an international effort.

- In December 2014, EUMETSAT hosted a workshop involving 14 agencies from Europe, America and Asia to work towards common implementation of the model (the so-called GSICS Implementation of the ROLO model, or GIRO), share expertise, provide a validated and traceable version of the model and, for the first time, generate a reference dataset for validation and comparisons, the GLOD [GSICS (Global Space-Based Inter-Calibration System) Lunar Observation Dataset].

- Data from at least 30 instruments from European, American and Asian satellites have been provided for the dataset. These include imagers, such as EUMETSAT’s SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager), which provides data crucial for models nowcasting severe weather events, and instruments measuring ocean color and aerosols, among others.

- Although EUMETSAT has taken on a major role in the project, keeping it moving forward and developing the source software code for the GIRO and collecting the datasets for the GLOD, the work has been a truly international team effort, Wagner said. Together, they have developed the GIRO, an agreed international reference for lunar calibration, traceable to the USGS ROLO model.

- The benefits in practice: Wagner said one of the major advantages of this international approach has been the sharing of data and understanding of the issues relating to lunar calibration. With all of the partners having an agreed reference, the level of uncertainty in relation to data can be reduced to very low levels.

- In March 2017, a major milestone in the project was reached when EUMETSAT made the source code of the GIRO and the GLOD available to its international partners. Analysis of the resulting observation datasets will be used to improve the lunar irradiance model. This will be discussed at a follow-on workshop to be held in Xi’an, China in November 2017, which aims to address the increasingly challenging calibration needs for the next generation of satellite instruments.


Figure 9: The moon appears in an image captured by the SEVIRI instrument on a EUMETSAT Meteosat Second Generation satellite (image credit: EUMETSAT)

On April 11, 2017, EUMETSAT decommissioned Meteosat-7, the last first generation of Meteosat geostationary spacecraft, after almost 20 years of service. The final command was sent at 09:00 UTC, ending the exceptional service record not only of one spacecraft but of the whole Meteosat first generation mission started by ESA in 1977. 17)

- During the past four decades, the series of seven successive Meteosat first generation satellites established the foundations for the products and services EUMETSAT delivers today from the geostationary orbit in support of nowcasting of high impact weather and built up an archive of over 36 years of observations, an invaluable asset for climate change monitoring.

- The mission also supported large scale international research programs, in particular the Mesoscale Alpine Program and the INDOEX (Indian Ocean Experiment) investigating the impacts of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on regional and global climate.

- Over the last ten years, Meteosat-7 has been delivering observations of the Indian Ocean from geostationary orbit. This heritage mission has been provided by Meteosat First Generation satellites ever since 1998. After the December-2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Meteosat-7 became an essential part of the Tsunami warning system, acting as a relay spacecraft for the Tsunami warning buoys that were put in place.

- EUMETSAT’s Director-General, Alain Ratier, said: “This last maneuver puts a safe end to a foundational program. Not only did the successful Meteosat first generation mission give birth to EUMETSAT in 1986 and made it a true satellite operator in 1995, but it shaped satellite meteorology in Europe, testing concepts such as rapid scanning of thunderstorms and extraction of wind vector products from the tracking of water vapor patterns across successive images.”

• On 3 April 2017 at 22:25 UT, the thrusters of Meteosat-7 started firing, the first in a week of maneuvers that will take the satellite to its ultimate resting place into a graveyard orbit, about 300 km above the geostationary ring. 18)

- Meteosat-7 is the last of the first generation Meteosats, geostationary weather satellites that shaped the success story of satellite meteorology in Europe. Modern weather forecasting began 40 years ago, with the launch of Meteosat-1. In 2016, when the EC approved the Space Strategy for Europe, it recognized the Meteosat program as a key European success story.

- Meteosat-7 (launched on 2 September 1997) was developed under the MTP (Meteosat Transition Program). It was designed to fill the gap between the Meteosat Operational Program (encompassing Meteosat-4 to -6) and the first satellite of the second generation, Meteosat-8 (launched on 28 August 2002).

- The satellite provided the prime 0º longitude Full Earth Scan Service from 3 June 1998 until it was replaced by Meteosat-8 on 16 May 2006. On 11 July 2006, Meteosat-7 moved to the Indian Ocean where it arrived on 10 October 2006. It became the prime provider of the Indian Ocean Data Coverage (IODC) Service at 57.5º East on 5 December 2006 until 1 February 2017, when Meteosat-8 took over.

• March 15, 2017: Today, Alain Ratier, Director-General of EUMETSAT and Wu Yanhua, Vice Administrator of CNSA ( China National Space Administration) signed an agreement that provides the policy framework for the continuation and expansion of EUMETSAT’s cooperation with China on monitoring the atmosphere, oceans and climate from space. 19)

- The policy framework established by this agreement will facilitate the implementation and extensions of the agreements already in force with CMA (China Meteorological Administration) and the NOSAS (National Ocean Satellite Application Center).

- The cooperation encompasses data exchange, scientific cooperation and coordination of respective observation systems in the context of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the GCOS (Global Climate Observing System) from space, the CGMS (Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites) and CEOS (Committee for Earth Observation Satellites).

- It will capitalize on the long term, multi-satellite programs approved by China and the EUMETSAT Member States.

• As of February 1, 2017, Meteosat-8 replaced Meteosat-7 as the EUMETSAT geostationary satellite observing the Indian Ocean. The Meteosat-8 satellite belongs to the second generation of Meteosats and is much more capable than the first generation Meteosat-7 — delivering imagery from 12 instead of 3 spectral channels, with higher spatial resolution and with an increased frequency, every 15 instead of every 30 minutes. Of the 12 spectral channels, 11 provide measurements with a resolution of 3 km at the subsatellite point. The twelfth, so-called HRV (High Resolution Visible) channel of SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager), provides measurements with a resolution of 1 km. 20)

- In the context of the World Meteorological Organization's IGOS (Integrated Global Observation System) and in partnership with India, Russia and China, EUMETSAT thus continues its best effort contribution to observations of the Indian Ocean from geostationary orbit.

- The partnership provides more resilient, integrated IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage) services with optimum regional coverage, including a joint suite of essential meteorological products made available to all users worldwide.

- For optimum synergy with the Indian INSAT-3D satellite, located around 82° East and with Meteosat-10 located at 0°, Meteosat-8 operates at 41.5°East, instead of 57.5° East. The synergy with Meteosat-10 brings additional benefits to EUMETSAT users in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

- The Meteosat-8 image data is delivered in real time over Europe and Africa via EUMETCast, EUMETSAT’s flexible dissemination system for environmental data, and are exchanged with the IODC partners.

- Hans Peter Roesli of EUMETSAT said:” Central Eastern Europe, the Indian Ocean region, including the Indian sub-continent, is now in the focus of a multispectral imager which will deliver much needed observations of the numerous weather and weather-related features that plague these regions, like tropical cyclones, dust transport/storms, severe convection and monsoons.”


Figure 10: First operational image of the Indian Ocean region acquired by Meteosat-8 at 10:12 UTC on Feb. 1, 2017 (image credit: EUMETSAT)

• December 2016: The end-of-life and re-orbiting of the Meteosat-7 (the last Meteosat first generation satellite), which is currently supporting EUMETSAT’s IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage) service, is foreseen in the first quarter of 2017. It is planned to continue the IODC service with Meteosat-8, which is a MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) satellite (MSG-1). The usage of Meteosat-8 will significantly improve the IODC service by scanning the full Earth disc every 15 minutes in 12 spectral channels along with a full suite of MSG meteorological products, which will be disseminated via EUMETCast to Europe and Africa. Additionally a subset of the derived meteorological products will be disseminated to the GTS (Global Telecommunication System). Apart from the change in the Satellite family (MSG using the SEVIRI instrument), the Satellite rectification position will change from the current position of Meteosat-7 at 57.0°E to 41.5°E for Meteosat-8. This change in position may impact the collection of measurements from some DCP (Data Collection Platform) at the easterly locations, however it is planned to switch these DCPs to the JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) satellite. Introduction of the Meteosat-8 supported IODC service started with a parallel dissemination phase in the period November 2016 to March 2017. 21)

- Sometime in early 2017, Meteosat-8 is expected to take over the operational IODC service and as from April 2017, Meteosat-8 will be the only EUMETSAT satellite providing this service which is foreseen to continue until 2019.

- Due to the length of service time Meteosat-8 satellite has been in, its orbit inclination is at 4.3º in July 2016 and will grow by 0.62 º/year. A study performed by industry confirmed that the satellite can support the imaging mission up to 6 º inclination. Another study focussing on the Image processing system is ongoing to further investigate this for inclination orbits up to 10º.

- The Meteosat-8 satellite contains liquid fuel which is used to maintain its orbital position at 41.5°E. This fuel can migrate between tanks resulting in a wobbling of the spacecraft and with that can impact the geometrical quality of the rectified Level 1.5 image product. These effects are mitigated by dedicated operations the spacecraft’s tank heaters by the image processing algorithms to allow the production of nominal image and products.

- The SSU (Sun Sensor Unit) on Meteosat-8 is used as timing reference for satellite and image processing operations. Due to a seasonal unavailability of the SSU the ESU (Earth Sensor Unit) is used as a mitigation which might impact the Level 1.5 image product completeness and impact the HRV window appearance at its East/West image edges. The GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget)image rectification is also impacted during the ESU usage and an algorithm to mitigate this is under development in the GGSPS (GERB Ground Segment Processing System).

- The Meteosat-8 satellite suffers from a design weakness of the SSPA (Solid State Power Amplifier) resulting in a loss of its direct LRIT dissemination capability. This may impact also the DCS (Data Collection System) with a reduced redundancy of the MCP (Mission Communication Payload) and with that may impact the DCP mission operability.

- Meteosat-8 image data and products are derived from the Meteosat ‘Full-Earth Scan’, performed at 41.5°E for 15 minutes Repeat Cycles in 12 spectral channels. From the 41.5°E location, the scan region for Full-Earth scanning spans from approximately 40°W to 120°E and covering the full European continent, Africa and central Asia. In the East the image contains the western parts of Indonesia (Figure 11). Additionally Meteosat-8 DCS (Data Collection System), GERB and S&R missions covering the same longitude range.

- The SEVIRI Level 1.5 Imagery Mission is performed with 15 minutes timeliness and availability baseline>95% (Operational Performance Target: >99%) similar to MSG FES (Full Earth Scan) 0° longitude service. The meteorological products are provided with timeliness specific to the different products and availability baseline >95%, (operational performance target: >98.5%) similar to MSG Full Earth Scan 0° longitude service. The products are considered complete if they have been successfully generated from all input data.

- DCS (Data Collection Service): Since Meteosat-8 is located over the equator at 41.5ºE the DCS can be used by all DCP operators situated within its telecommunications FOV (Field of View). A realistic limit of this view is about 75º great circle arc of the subsatellite point and corresponding to a ground antenna elevation of 5º. The DCS will be provided with a timeliness of 10 minutes from arrival at the EUMETSAT Mission Control Center at Darmstadt and Availability Operational Performance Target: >98% similar to MSG FES 0° longitude service. Meteosat-8 will also support HRDCP (High Rate DCPs).


Figure 11: False color image from Meteosat-8 Full Earth Scan on 22 September 2016 at 08:30UTC (image credit: EUMETSAT)

- S&R (Search & Rescue): The S&R transponder on Meteosat-8 at 41.5ºE will be validated to ensure its functionality. It will only be used as a backup on request by COSPAS-SARSAT. Meteosat-8 will provice the EUMESAT contribution to the Indian Ocan Data Coverage (IODC) service within CGMS with the same services as the prime Meteosat Full-Earth-Scanning service at 0° longitude from February 2017 onwards with a current satellite lifetime assessment that indicates the possibility to provide the service until around 2020.


Figure 12: Overlap of regions as covered by Meteosat-8 (red), Meteosat-7 (green) and Meteosat-10 (black), image credit: EUMETSAT

• December 2016: MSG has been a successful successor to and major improvement over the Meteosat First Generation satellites - to a large extent due to the superb performance of the SEVIRI instrument. The careful work performed on ground in designing SEVIRI has been effective in ensuring a high quality in orbit instrument. SEVIRI has been proven to provide data with high availability, high geometric quality/accuracy and good radiometric quality, with an excellent signal to noise ratio - exceeded most specifications. Furthermore, Meteosat-8 has so far, exceeded specified lifetime by a factor of two - and the other MSG satellites are expected to continue to provide valuable geostationary images to support operational meteorology and climate monitoring for many more years (Ref. 61).

• Sept. 23, 2016: Meteosat-8, the first of EUMETSAT’s MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) meteorological satellite series, will replace the soon-to-be-de-orbited Meteosat-7 satellite, the last of the first generation satellites, which had been providing the IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage)service but is approaching the end of its nearly 20-year-long lifetime in space. 22)

- Meteosat-8 was, until recently, stationed at 3.5°E, serving as a “hot back-up” for the satellites Meteosat-9 and -10. However, in early July, the EUMETSAT Flight Operations team set the spacecraft on an ~80-day drift journey to bring it to its new position at 41.5ºE and provide its service to the IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage). This crucial coverage function is provided together with India’s INSAT-3D, at 82°E, China’s FY-2E at 86.5°E and Russia’s Elektro L N2 at 77.8°E in an international, cooperative arrangement. The provision of better and more frequent observations by Meteosat- 8 from this new position will bring benefits to countries, such as Indian Ocean islands and the east African coast, which experience tropical cyclones. Additionally, this arrangement will allow for better observations of severe weather over EUMETSAT Member States in Central Europe.

- Meteosat-8 arrived at 41.5°E on 21 September, 2016. The distribution of IODC Meteosat-8 data, in parallel to Meteosat-7 data, is planned to start on 4 October. In the first quarter of 2017, Meteosat-8 will eventually replace Meteosat-7 which will be moved to its graveyard orbit.

• July 19, 2016: The Meteosat-10 SEVIRI HRV (High Resolution Visible) image from 19 July 10:45 UTC (Figure 13) shows mainly clear skies over the UK, Brize Norton in Oxfordshire recorded the top temperature of 33.5 °C, — making it the hottest day of year so far. — But it was still a long way from the UK's record maximum temperature of 38.5°C, recorded on 10 August 2003 at Faversham in Kent. 23)

- In the southwest corner of the image (Figure 13), an area of cirrus moved north, heralding some heavy thunderstorms which spread north during the night across western and northern parts of the UK.

- The Airmass RGB image of Figure 14 shows a cold front moving northeast across the UK with heavy rain and thunderstorms breaking out over the northwest of England, Wales and Scotland.


Figure 13: SEVIRI HRV image of Meteosat-10 on July 19, 2016 showing mainly clear skies over the UK and Ireland. In this HRV image, small convective clouds can be seen over northern England and Scotland (image credit: EUMETSAT)


Figure 14: Meteosat-10 Airmass RGB image on 20 July 2016 at 09:00 UTC shows a cold front moving northeast across the UK. Rainfall totals exceeded 50 mm in areas of Wales and northwest England, and more than 30 mm in places in Scotland. A large MCS (Mesoscale Convective System) can be seen developing in the Irish sea and moving northeast over Scotland (image credit: EUMETSAT)

• As of May 2016, EUMETSAT is operating the following geostationary satellites: Meteosat-7, -8, -9 and -10. Meteosat-7 is the only remaining MFG (Meteosat First Generation) operational spacecraft, located at 57ºE over the Indian Ocean. Meteosat-8 (in extended life since 2010), Meteosat-9 (in extended life since 2013) and Meteosat-10 are MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) series spacecraft (Figure 15). 24)


Launch date



Meteosat-11 (MSG4)


3.4º West

Back-up, In-orbit Storage until required

Meteosat-10 (MSG3)


Full-Disk Service, Real-time Imagery

Meteosat-9 (MSG2)


9.5º East

Rapid Scan Service, Real-time Imagery

Meteosat-8 (MSG1)


3.5º East
41.5º East as of Sept. 21, 2016

Backup service for 0º, RSS (Rapid Scanning Service) gap-filling
Backup service for 0º, IODC in parallel with Meteosat-7, full IODC service in 2017

Meteosat-7 (MTP)


57º East

IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage), Real-time Imagery

Table 4: General information about current Meteosat satellites

• Dec. 16, 2015: After a comprehensive commissioning campaign started on 26 July 2015, involving testing of the MSG-4 satellite and evaluation of image and meteorological products, a series of formal reviews confirmed the full readiness of the MSG-4 satellite for routine operations, with all products in line with the quality requirements of operational service. 25)

- The satellite was handed over to the EUMETSAT Operations Department as Meteosat-11 and placed into in-orbit storage nominally for about two and a half years, until 2018, but is ready for activation for operations within one week, if needed.

- Meteosat-11, as the last of the successful MSG series of geostationary satellites, will provide continuity of service until MTG-I1, the first of the MTG (Meteosat Third Generation) imaging satellites, is commissioned - in 2020 - and will continue to be exploited in tandem with the new MTG-I satellites until 2025.


Figure 15: Overview of EUMETSAT programs (image credit: EUMETSAT) 26)

• On August 4, 2015, the SEVIRI instrument on MSG-4 (Meteosat-11) acquired its first image of Earth (Figure 16). This demonstrates that Europe’s latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 15 July, is performing well and is on its way to becoming fully operational when needed after six months of commissioning. 27)

- ESA was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-4 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 26 July.

- The first image is a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT and European space industry. For its mandatory programs, EUMETSAT relies on ESA to develop new satellites and procure the recurrent satellites like MSG-4. This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the two agencies’ expertise.


Figure 16: MSG-4, Europe’s latest weather satellite, delivers first image (image credit: EUMETSAT)

• On July 26, 2015, ESA handed control of Europe’s last Meteosat Second Generation weather satellite, MSG-4, to EUMETSAT. 28)

- After commissioning, MSG-4 will become Meteosat-11 and be ‘stored’ until it replaces one of its predecessors. It will then ensure the continuity of the data until the first Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites enter service, expected in 2019 and 2021.

• April 22, 2015: A snapshot of our home planet captured on the morning of Earth Day by the MSG-3 (Meteosat-10) satellite of EUMETSAT. 29)


Figure 17: Meteosat-10 captured this image of Earth on 22 April 2015 with its SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager) instrument (image credit: EUMETSAT)

On January 24, 2015, Meteosat-7 became the longest-serving operational satellite in EUMETSAT history, clocking up 17 years of monitoring the weather from space. When it was launched in September 1997, Meteosat-7 was the seventh and last in the Meteosat First Generation series of satellites, but was the first solely controlled by EUMETSAT. 30)

- Similar in design to its predecessors, Meteosat-7 was designated the primary operational satellite at 0° longitude in June 1998. The satellite had a design life expectancy of five years.

- An interesting development arose during Meteosat-7’s period as an operational satellite. The international scientific experiment, known as INDOEX (Indian Ocean Experiment), concluded there was a need for geostationary meteorological coverage over the Indian Ocean. EUMETSAT was the only satellite provider able fulfil this need, by moving Meteosat-5 to 63° East in 1998. Later, in July 2006, Meteosat-7 was moved to provide the IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage) function.

- Meteosat-7 still provides coverage over the Indian Ocean, located above the Equator at longitude 57.5 °E, at an altitude of ~35,786 km. It takes images every 30 minutes and provides a service relaying data from DCPs (Data Collection Platforms), such as buoys, in support of the tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. It has a good viewing angle, giving a good view of cloud systems over the Arabian Peninsula.

- Meteosat-7 is generally in good health, having suffered only a few anomalies over the years. There is approx 6.38 kg of fuel available on board — 3.9 kg is reserved for orbit raising (above GEO) at the end of the satellite’s life. The fuel budget and the in-orbit experience with Meteosat-5 and -6 gives sufficient confidence that Meteosat-7 should be able to support IODC until the end of 2016 or possibly the 1st quarter of 2017.

• June 2014: Scientists compared data from the SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager) on board Meteosat with ground data from a thermal camera, to show the temperature of the lava lake at Nyiragongo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The technique was pioneered in Europe, and the researchers say it could be used to help monitor volcanoes in remote places all over the world. 31)

- The technique was first used in a study during a lava fountain at Mt Etna in August 2011. The team was surprised in finding a very similar radiant heat flux curve from the ground-based thermal camera, placed a few kilometers from Etna, and from SEVIRI on Meteosat at 36,000km above the Earth.

- Transferring the technique to Nyiragongo was important – partly because the exposed lava lake can yield data important for modelling shallow volcanic systems in general, but more importantly because advance warning of eruptions is necessary for the rapidly expanding city of Goma nearby. The research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth is the first time in which Nyiragongo’s lake has been studied using ground-based thermal images (FLIR camera) in addition to satellite data to monitor the volcano's radiative power record. 32)

- Gaetana Ganci and her colleagues from the INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) in Italy developed an algorithm they call HOTSAT to detect thermal anomalies on the Earth’s surface temperature linked to volcanoes. They calculate the amount of heat energy being given out in a target area based on analysis of the SEVIRI images. Combining the frequent SEVIRI images with the more detailed but less frequent images from NASA’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument, they showed that temperature anomalies could be observed from space before an eruption is underway. They believe that spaceborne observations can be a significant help in the difficult task of predicting volcanic eruptions, but that providing advance warning will never be easy.

- The team developed HOTSAT with a view to making an automatic system for monitoring volcanic activity. They are now developing a new version of HOTSAT. This should allow the processing of all the volcanic areas that can be monitored by SEVIRI in near-realtime. Continuing ground-based observations will be needed for validation (Ref. 31).

• May 2014: The Meteosat- 8, -9 and -10 satellites, all from the second generation of European meteorological satellites, operate over Europe and Africa, while Meteosat-7, the last of the first generation, operates over the Indian Ocean, to fill a data gap over this region. It will be de-orbited in 2017. Meteosat-10 is the prime operational geostationary satellite, positioned at 0º and providing full disc imagery every 15 minutes. Meteosat-9 provides the Rapid Scanning Service, delivering more frequent images every five minutes over parts of Europe, Africa and adjacent seas. 33)

• On April 9, 2013, Meteosat-9 took over the rapid scanning imagery service (RSS) from Meteosat-8. This completes the reassignment of roles of the three Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites following the launch of Meteosat-10 on July 5, 2012. 34)

- After being replaced in January by Meteosat-10 as the prime operational satellite supplying full disk images of Europe and Africa, Meteosat-9 now provides the RSS, delivering more frequent images every five minutes over Europe only. The two-satellite system continues the services previously delivered by Meteosat-8 and -9 in support of weather forecasters in one of their most challenging tasks, nowcasting, which involves detecting and monitoring rapidly developing high impact weather like thunderstorms or fog and issuing related warnings up to 12 hours ahead (Ref. 34).

• March 28, 2013: Ten years ago EUMETSAT revolutionized the way users can access satellite data, with the introduction of EUMETCast. EUMETCast is a data dissemination system which allows users to access numerous data streams via regular, ‘off-the-shelf’ satellite TV equipment and a PC. Every day more than 100 GB of data, from 37 data providers, are disseminated to the EUMETSAT users worldwide. 35)


Figure 18: The bandwidth evolution on EUMETCast Europe since the start of the DVB service (image credit: EUMETSAT)

For EUMETCast’s users ( > 3,000 in 2013), the system is ideal because it enables them to access various types of data via one station. It also offers:

- Secure delivery — multicast to a specific user, or group of users

- Handling of many file formats and both high and low volumes

- Quick delivery

- Worldwide coverage through the GEONETCast partnership.

• January 21, 2013: Meteosat-10 has replaced Meteosat-9 as EUMETSAT’s prime operational geostationary weather satellite after being moved to 0º. 36) — EUMETSAT provided products from Meteosat-10 in parallel with those from Meteosat-9 (which it eventually replaced) over several months. This allowed for a thorough cross-checking of data characteristics between the two satellites, and a very smooth transition for the operational use of the data.

• On Dec. 12, 2012, the MSG-3 satellite was declared ready to support the Meteosat operational services and renamed to Meteosat-10. This was done after the successful completion of in-orbit testing. 37)

In the next two months, Meteosat-10 and Meteosat-9 will deliver full Earth scan image and meteorological products in parallel, with Meteosat-10 scheduled to become the prime operational satellite on January 21, 2013 after moving to 0º. Parallel dissemination will allow users to prepare themselves before Meteosat-10 takes over.

• Oct. 23, 2012: EUMETSAT has started trial dissemination of MSG-3 image data and meteorological products to national meteorological services in the organisation’s Member and Cooperating States and to the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). 38)

• August 28, 2012: Tenth anniversary of MSG-1 (alias MeteoSat-8) on orbit. When the first MSG-1 satellite, namely MeteoSat-8, was launched on 28 August 2002, it heralded a new era of discovery for meteorologists. It became fully operational at 0º longitude at the equator on 19 January 2004 and, in addition to providing weather information in much more detail, it provided information on phenomena which had never been considered before. 39)

• On August 7, 2012, the SEVIRI instrument on MSG-3 (alias MeteoSat-10), launched on July 5, 2012, captured its first full disk image of the Earth. ESA was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-3 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 16 July, 2012. 40)


Figure 19: First full disk image of the SEVIRI instrument on MSG-3 (MeteoSat-10) captured on Aug. 7, 2012 (image credit: EUMETSAT)

• July 16, 2012: Following the successful launch of the MSG-3 satellite on July 5, 2013 aboard an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, and after 11 days of LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) by ESA/ESOC, EUMETSAT took control of the MSG-3 operations. 41) 42)

• In 2011, Meteosat-9 (MSG-2) is EUMETSAT's nominal operational satellite at 0º longitude, performing the full-disc mission (one image every 15 minutes on 12 spectral channels). Meteosat-8 serves as its back-up. Satellite and payload performances remain excellent.

- In 2011, the Meteosat-8 (MSG-1, backup) spacecraft and instruments are in good health. The last north/south stationkeeping maneuver was made at the end of October 2010, after which the satellite inclination will drift at a rate of about one degree/year. Provided there are no serious failures, at least six additional years of mission are possible (from a design life of seven years). Nevertheless, preparations for reorbiting operations at the end of its life have started. 43)

• Meteosat-8 (backup) and Meteosat-9 (primary service provision) are operating nominally in 2010. 44)

- The Meteor-8 spacecraft is in good health with instruments performing flawlessly. It is providing the Rapid Scan Service (RSS), complementing the 15-minute High Resolution Image data generated by the operational Meteosat-9.

- Meteosat-9 is Eumetsat’s nominal (primary) operational satellite at 0º longitude, with Meteosat-8 as its backup. Satellite and instruments performance are excellent.

• On 25 May 2009, Eumetsat extended the coverage of the AHRPT (Advanced High Resolution Picture Transmission) system on Eumetsat's Metop-A polar-orbiting satellite. The improved service provides additional coverage over the Gulf of Mexico and Indian Ocean regions. 45)

• On May 22, 2007, Meteosat-8 experienced an orbit change which was not the result of a commanded maneuver by EUMETSAT. The incident was initially detected by the Image Processing System as a change of satellite state; this orbit change event included a decrease in spin rate, a change in attitude, some nutation, a temperature change on thrusters and fuel lines, and a small drop in solar array power. A possible cause is that the spacecraft was likely hit by a micro-meteorite or space junk.

Investigations have shown that the propulsion subsystem, the thermal control subsystem, and to a lesser extent the electrical power subsystem have been affected by this incident. In particular, one of the nominal thrusters used for east-west station keeping maneuvers seems affected, possibly damaged. The redundant thruster for the same function has been tested and seems to be performing well. As the redundant branch of thrusters can be safely used, and as a new thermal configuration can be developed, there should be no impact on Meteosat-8's ability to serve as the in-orbit backup satellite, and to provide the Rapid Scanning service.

• On Jan. 3, 2006, control of the second Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-2) satellite has been passed from ESA/ESOC to EUMETSAT so that commissioning operations could start. MSG-2 became operational in July 2006 and was renamed at this point to MeteoSat-9.

MSG-1 was declared operational on January 9, 2004 and renamed to Meteosat-8. In January 2004, at the end of the commissioning phase for MSG-1, it had been concluded that nearly all MSG mission objectives were met, and that the imaging performances are excellent, in many cases much better than the specifications. Moreover, image acquisition and the image rectification are still being achieved during the eclipses, or during the east-west maneuvers, leading to a very high mission availability. In particular: 46) 47)

- Image radiometric performance: All radiometric performances were met with significant margins.

- Image geometric performance: In all cases, including during eclipses and east-west maneuvers, the geometric performances of the rectified images are met with significant margins. In nominal cases, most of the geometric performances are met with a factor 2 to 3 better than the specification.

• MSG-1 commissioning got under way on Sept. 25, 2002. Then on Oct. 17, 2002, SSPA-C (Solid State Power Amplifier-C) failed just before switching on the SEVIRI instrument. It was to be used to re-broadcast the data that had been processed by the EUMETSAT control center.

Operational conditions of the satellite were nominal but the failure led to an automatic payload switch-off. All attempts to restart the SSPA failed and commissioning was suspended. A new satellite configuration was applied, and commissioning activities resumed on November 26, 2002.

In order to disseminate MSG-1 data, engineers extended EUMETCast, a multicast distribution system using commercial communications satellites. In this new approach, files are distributed using the DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) standard in the Ku-band for Europe via the Eutelsat Hot Bird-6 spacecraft, located at 13º East, and in the C-band for Africa via Eutelsat Atlantic Bird-3, located at 5º West (see EUMETCast heading at end of file).

• During the launch of MSG-1 in 2002 many unexpected issues were encountered that drastically affected the confidence in determining the satellite’s attitude and ultimately caused an extension to the originally foreseen timeline. Although MSG-1 was successfully delivered into the required orbit and handover attitude, ESOC’s Flight Dynamics Division had to considerably revise its attitude determination algorithms to account for the unforeseen spacecraft dynamics.

MSG-2 was therefore an opportunity to test the improvements made to the flight dynamics operational software and see whether the better understanding of the spacecraft’s dynamics would allow the operational timeline to be maintained. 48)

Prototype satellites of the preoperational program series


Launch date




Service provision until Nov. 1979 when the imager failed prematurely.
The DCS (Data Collection Service) of Meteosat-1 ended in 1984.



Service operation from Aug. 12, 1981 until Aug. 11, 1988 as prime satellite.
- Deorbiting of Meteosat-2 from GEO in December 1991.
- A data gap of 20 months was experienced between the failure of Meteosat-1 and the launch of Meteosat-2



Meteosat P2 was a refurbished prototype of Meteosat-2 - initially designated as Meteosat-P2 (Engineering Prototype model).
- Service provision (prime) shortly after launch since Meteosat-2 had reached an inclination (and no more fuel for corrections).
- From 01.08.1991 until May 1995, Meteosat-3 was repositioned over the West Atlantic as a temporary replacement for GOES services (first at 50º W then at 75º W).
Reason: It was anticipated that the GOES program of NOAA might suffer a possible gap in coverage.
- Meteosat-3 of ESA was operated by ESOC using a specially built ground station at Wallops Island, VA.
- Meteosat-3 was retired after this service mission in 1995.

MOP (Meteosat Operational Program) Missions



MOP-1: First image of MOP-1 on April 19, 1989
Meteosat-4 entered service on June 19, 1989 and served as prime to Feb. 1994, when it was replaced by Meteosat-5.
Meteosat-4 was removed from GEO and deactivated in Nov. 1996.



MOP-2: Meteosat-5 acted as primary S/C for the 0º service over Europe from Feb. 1994 until 1997.
- The S/C was repositioned to 65º E for the INDOEX campaign support (1998, 1999).
- After INDOEX, Meteosat-5 started a routine service IODC (Indian Ocean Data Coverage) at 63º E.
- The DCP (Data Collection Platform) and retransmission service started in April 2005.
- Service provision until Feb. 2007 (> 15 years of service) when the S/C was decommissioned and placed into a higher graveyard orbit (also referred to as deorbiting).



MOP-3: Meteosat-6 provided image data for Europe; the S/C was retired from its regular duties in Jan. 2007.
- Meteosat-6 operated in RSS (Rapid Scanning Service) mode during the total solar eclipse in Aug. 1999.
- In Oct. 2002, Meteosat-6 moved from 9º W to 10º E to accommodate MSG-2
- Since May 2007 the S/C is located at 67.5º E over the Indian Ocean to support the IODC service during eclipse periods and for DCP coverage service.
- On Jan. 5, 2010, Meteosat-6 set a new record for the duration of the operational life of a Meteosat satellite, exceeding the previous record set by Meteosat-5, which was re-orbited in 2007. Meteosat-6 (5 year design life) contunues to provide an important operational service, the retransmission of Data Collection Platform messages, and is also part of the Tsunami Warning System for the Indian Ocean area.
- Meteosat-6 is running low on fuel and is expected to be deorbited in late 2010 or in early 2011. After that, all services for the Indian Ocean area will rely solely on Meteosat-7 (Ref. 50).



MOP-4: Meteosat-7 was part of the MTP (Meteosat Transition Program) toward MSG (Meteosat Second Generation).
- In June 1997, Meteosat-7 became the primary operational S/C at 0º location.
- From 29.01.2004 until 14.06.2006 provision of parallel services over Europe from Meteosat-7 and Meteosat-8 (former MSG-1)
- In July 2006, Meteosat-7 arrived at 57.5º E over the Indian Ocean.
- The S/C is providing IODC services in support of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. - - Take over of DCP services from Meteosat-5 in Dec. 2006.
- The Meteosat-7 spacecraft is operational in 2011 (life expectancy to 2013
- An East-West stationkeeping maneuver was executed on March 9, 2011.
- On January 24, 2015, Meteosat-7 became the longest-serving operational satellite in EUMETSAT history, clocking up 17 years of monitoring the weather from space. 52)

MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) Missions:



MSG-1 became operational on 09.01.2004 and was renamed to Meteosat-8.
Meteosat-8 is operational as of 2008.
On May 13, 2008, Meteosat-8 started disseminating RSS data from a position at 9.5º E
In December 2013, Meteosat is located at 3.9º E operating nominally.



MSG-2 became operational in July 2006 (and was renamed to Meteosat-9) providing a backup service for Meteosat-8 located at 0º longitude
Parallel service provision of Meteosat-8 and -9 started in July 2006
Meteosat-9 became the prime S/C as of 11.04.2007 at 0º. In addition, it became the backup satellite for RSS (Rapid Scanning Service) support




- On July 16, 2012, ESA/ESOC handed control of the spacecraft over to EUMETSAT. Commissioning of the spacecraft and its payload at EUMETSAT consists of a two-month phase for satellite check-out and assessment, followed by a four-month phase for imaging and product testing, including calibration and validation activities.
- After commissioning, when MSG-3 has become Meteosat-10, it will be stationed at 0º longitude, over the Gulf of Guinea on the Equator, in geostationary orbit, where its speed precisely matches Earth’s rotation (Ref. 51).
- MSG-3 was renamed to Meteosat-10 on Dec. 18, 2012 to support the Meteosat operational services.



The last weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) series lifted off on an Ariane 5 launcher at 21:42 GMT (23:42 CEST) on 15 July from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (Ref. 53).
- After LEOP efforts are completed by ESA/ESOC (European Space Operations Center) in Darmstadt, Germany, MSG-4 will be handed over to the satellite’s owner, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites – EUMETSAT – to commission the payload.

Table 5: Overview of Meteosat missions 49) 50) 51) 52) 53)


Figure 20: EUMETSAT space segment (image credit: EUMETSAT) 54)


Figure 21: Comparison of first and second generation Meteosat spacecraft (image credit: EUMETSAT)

Sensor complement: (SEVIRI, GERB, GEOS&R, DCS)

SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager)

SEVIRI is the principal onboard instrument, an imaging radiometer for imaging and sounding (12 channel instrument as defined in Table 6). The instrument was designed and built by EADS Astrium SAS, France. Its operating principle is based on collecting radiation from a target area and focusing it on detectors sensitive to 12 different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum by means of a telescope. This is followed by the electronic processing of the signals provided by the detectors. Channels VIS 0.6 µm, VIS 0.8 µm, IR 1.6 µm and HRV (High Resolution Visible) are referred to as “warm”, while channels IR 3.9 to IR 13.4 µm are referred to as “cold.” The cylindrical instrument has a diameter of about 1 m and a height of 2.1 m along the spin axis of the satellite. Instrument mass = 270 kg, power = 123 W. The instrument functional architecture is based on four main assemblies: 55) 56) 57) 58) 59) 60) 61)

Background: SEVIRI is a new generation of geostationary orbit imaging instrument for meteorological applications succeeding the MVIRI instrument on the FGM (First Generation MeteoSat) spacecraft. SEVIRI studies started at the end of the 1980s. The development phase started in 1994. The first flight model was delivered in 1999 after less than 5 years of development and extensive testing. SEVIRI was then integrated into the MSG-1 spacecraft.


Figure 22: Illustration of TSA (Telescope and Scan Assembly) and FPCA of SEVIRI (image credit: EADS-Astrium)


Figure 23: Sun angle evolution with respect to SEVIRI (image credit: EADS Astrium)

• TSA (Telescope and Scan Assembly) including the calibration unit and the refocusing mechanism. TSA employs a three-mirror telescope of compact design. The primary mirror is concave aspherical with a diameter of 510 mm. The secondary mirror is concave aspherical of 200 mm diameter. The tertiary mirror is convex a-spherical of 60 mm diameter. The total length of the telescope structure is 1.3 m. All mirrors are light-weighted and manufactured from Zerodur (Schott Glas, Mainz, Germany). The rotating scan mirror assembly uses a linear spindle drive with a stepping motor, providing continuous bi-directional image scanning.

- Scan assembly. North to south scan of the Earth: scan capability of 22º in N-S direction and 18º in E-W direction. At each satellite revolution, three image lines are acquired (9 lines for the High Resolution Visible channel) for a total of about 1250 lines in a repeat cycle of 15 minutes. Each nominal raw image consists of 3750 lines, each one containing about 3834 pixels except for HRV channel for which a nominal raw image consists of 3750 lines with 5751 pixels per line.

- REM (Refocusing Mechanism) permits for in-orbit focus adjustments. REM operates by moving the M2/M3 mirror assembly along the instrument's south-north axis.

- CALU (Calibration Unit) permits calibration of the IR channels by inserting a CRS (Blackbody Calibration Reference) source into the optical beam at the focal point of the primary mirror. A flip-flop type mechanism is employed based on a DC voice coil motor. A refocusing mechanism is included in the SEVIRI telescope to correct, on an occasional basis, for potential defocus after launch and during lifetime. It consists of a stepper motor, a transmission gear box and a roller screw to provide the translation. 62)


Figure 24: The optical layout scheme of SEVIRI (image credit: ESA)


Figure 25: Illustration of scan assembly (image credit: ESA)

• FPCA (Focal Plane and Cooler Assembly). FPCA is a passive two-stage cooler providing an 85 K environment for the IR channels. The PCA (Passive Cooler Assembly) is a two-stage passive cooling device, composed of the radiator and the sunshield, which provide the IR detectors with a cryogenic environment. The sunshield is used to avoid direct solar radiation onto the first and second stages of the radiator.

• EUA (Electrical Unit Assembly), consists of FCU (Functional Control Unit), DE (Detection Electronics) including the MDU (Main Detection Unit), the PU (Preamplifier Unit) and the detectors. EUA controls SEVIRI and processes its data. The DE consists of the detectors and the front-end electronics.


Figure 26: The cold IR optical bench of SEVIRI (image credit: ESA)


Figure 27: Illustration of FPCA the SEVIRI instrument (image credit: ESA)

The overall SEVIRI design is based on a compact telescope and scan assembly, allowing the implementation of a large passive cooler which improves IR detector performances by lowering their operating temperature. The imaging SEVIRI radiometer is equipped with a patented three-mirror (3M) telescope of compact design (focal length of 5367 mm) which allows the insertion of a small black body for full-pupil calibration. The primary mirror (M1) is a concave circular ellipsoid (centered on the satellite axis). M1 is a 500 mm diameter mirror with a baffled central hole of 90 mm diameter. It is followed by a magnifying two-mirror assembly including the secondary mirror (M2) , which is a concave ellipsoid centered on the satellite axis, and the tertiary mirror (M3) which is a convex spherical mirror. The M2/M3 assembly is a compact ”light-tight” configuration allowing easy alignment. 63)

The main innovation of SEVIRI is the presence of 12 spectral channels geometrically co-registered and acquired simultaneously. The 12 channel detectors are positioned at the focal plane using a total of 42 detectors. Each channel has an array of 3 detector elements, with the exception of the HRV channel which has 9 detectors. The eight IR channels have HgCdTe detectors, they are passively cooled. The VIS channels feature photo-voltaic silicon diodes while the NIR channels have InGaAs photovoltaic diodes.

Data quantization is done inside the MDU (Main Detection Unit) by a 12 bit ADC, for an effective 10 bit resolution at the electronic outputs, after digital dynamic offset and fine gain correction. Auxiliary data are added to the detector data for image processing on ground.

Cha. No


Nominal spectral band (µm)


Max Dynamic range


Center of λ (µm)


HRV (High Resolution Visible)

Broadband (silicon response, about 0.4-1.1)

1.07 W/(m2 sr µm)
at 1.3 W/(m2 sr µm)

460 W/(m2 sr µm)


VIS 0.6



0.53 W/(m2 sr µm)
at 5.3 W/(m2 sr µm)

533 W/(m2 sr µm)


VIS 0.8



0.49 W/(m2 sr µm)
at 3.6 W/(m2 sr µm)

357 W/(m2 sr µm)


IR 1.6



0.25 W/(m2 sr µm)
at 0.75 W/(m2 sr µm)

75 W/(m2 sr µm)


IR 3.9



0.35 K at 300 K

335 K


WV 6.2



0.75 K at 250 K

300 K


WV 7.3



0.75 K at 250 K

300 K


IR 8.7



0.28 K at 300 K

300 K


IR 9.7



1.5 K at 255 K

310 K





0.25 K at 300 K

355 K


IR 12.0



0.37 K at 300 K

335 K


IR 13.4



1.8 K at 270 K

300 K

Table 6: Channel definitions of the SEVIRI instrument

The Earth's radiation enters the instrument at every revolution through a 50 cm x 80 cm aperture. The nominal repeat cycle of 15 minutes was the driver in selecting the number of detectors per channel and the spin rate (100 rpm). Twelve minutes are allocated to the imaging phase, leaving three minutes for calibration, retrace and stabilization. The 1 km sampling at SSP of the HRV channel is achieved by using 9 broadband detection elements. The other channels are sampled at 3 km SSP by using 3 narrow-band detection elements per channel.

Spatial resolutions: SEVIRI observes the Earth-atmosphere system with a spatial sampling distance of 3 km at SSP in 11 channels while the HRV channel covers half the full disk with a 1 km spatial sampling at SSP. The actual IFOV of the channels is about 4.8 km (11 channels) and 1.67 km (HRV), respectively, at SSP. The detector sizes are:

- 5,625 pixels x 11,250 pixels for the 1 km sampling channel (HRV)

- 3,750 pixels x 3,750 pixels for the 3 km sampling channels

SEVIRI imaging is performed by combining S/C spin and rotation (stepping) of the scan mirror (optomechanical instrument). The images are taken from east to west. The E-W scan is achieved through the rotation of the S/C with a nominal spin rate of 100 revolutions/min. The spin axis is nominally oriented parallel to the north-south axis of the Earth. The scan from south to north is achieved through the scan mirror covering the Earth's disk with about 1250 scan lines; this provides 3750 image lines for channels 1-11 since three detectors are used for the imaging. A nominal repeat cycle is a full-disk imaging of about 12 minutes, followed by the calibration of the thermal IR channels with an onboard blackbody that is inserted into the optical path of the instrument. Then the scan mirror returns to the initial scanning position. 64)


Figure 28: Earth imaging scheme of SEVIRI (image credit: EUMETSATT,, ESA)

Earth frame East-West

18.40º (321.5 mrad.), HRV: 9.2º (160.7 mrad)

Earth frame North-South

18.01º (314.4 mrad.)

Scan range North-South

20.0º (384 mrad., 1527 steps)

Scan line step

51.88 arcsec (251.5 µrad., 9 km at SSP)

Scan mechanism step

25.94 arcsec (125.8 µrad., 9 km at SSP)

Spin rate

100 rpm

Line cycle

0.6 s

Imaging time per line

30.672 ms (5%); HRV: 15.336 ms

Earth imaging time

12.5 minutes

Calibration, retrace and stabilization

2.5 minutes

Repeat cycle

15 minutes

Table 7: Some SEVIRI imaging parameters

Channel groups

Scanning parameters

Data rate before stretching

Data rate after

3 VNIR channels
(2 VIS +1 IR)

3 detectors per channel
3834 pixels per line
10 bits per pixel

11.25 Mbit/s

0.5751 Mbit/s

8 IR channels

3 detectors per channel
3834 pixels per line
10 bits per pixel

30.00 Mbit/s

1.5336 Mbit/s

1 HRV (High Resolution Visible) channel

9 detectors per channel
5751 pixels per line
10 bits per pixel

33.75 Mbit/s

0.8627 Mbit/s



75 Mbit/s

2.9714 Mbit/s

Table 8: Projected data rates of the SEVIRI instrument

SEVIRI employs the classical calibration approach using deep space as cold source and a known onboard source as a warm reference. The onboard blackbody temperature is used to determine the correction factor accounting for the different levels of background flux. The deep-space view is performed via the full optical path by commanding the acquisition of a sufficient number of samples during that part of the S/C revolution, when neither the Earth nor the sun (or moon) is in the FOV of SEVIRI. 65)

Parameter / Satellite-Instrument

MVIRI (Meteosat First Generation)

SEVIRI (Meteosat Second Generation)

Imaging cycle

30 minutes

15 minutes

Visible channels

1 (0.5 - 0.9 µm)

4 (0.4-1.6 µm) inclusive HRV

Infrared channels

2 (6.4 µm & 11.5 µm)

8 (3.9-13.4 µm)

Resolution of visible channels

2.25 km

1 km HRV

Resolution of infrared channels

5 km

3 km




Instrument mass, average power

65 kg, 17 W

260 kg, 150 W

Instrument size (height/diameter)

1.35 m / 0.72 m

2.43 m / 1.5 m

Instrument average data rate

0.33 Mbit/s

3.26 Mbit/s

Table 9: Comparison of radiometer parameters of Meteosat and MSG missions

GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget):

GERB is an AO (Announcement of Opportunity) instrument, and provided on a national funding basis by a consortium led by the UK (NERC, RAL, IC), Belgium (OSTC, IRMB) and Italy (ASI). RAL of UK provides overall instrument management, systems engineering and other services (consortium lead). PI: J. Harries, Imperial College London (ICL). 66) 67) 68) 69) 70) 71) 72) 73) 74) 75)

GERB is an absolute radiometer of high measurement accuracy with the objective to monitor the Earth's radiation budget (global climate change, food production and natural disaster prediction) measuring at the top of the atmosphere (continuous temporal sampling), in particular the reflected shortwave and the emitted longwave regions of the spectrum, essential for the understanding of the Earth's climate balance.

The instrument is composed of two main elements, the IOU (Instrument Optical Unit) and the IEU (Instrument Electronics Unit), featuring the following basic design:

• Three-mirror anastigmatic system (TMA) + one rotating and one flat folding mirror

• Wide-band linear detector array (256 thermoelectric elements)

• Continuously rotating scan mechanism

• Channel separation via quartz filter

• Blackbody for thermal calibration

• Solar diffuser for shortwave calibration

• Passive thermal design

• Structure based on solid optical bench

Spectral bands (2)

0.32 - 4.0 µm (Shortwave)
Solar band

0.32 µm to ≥ 100 µm (Longwave)
Total band

- Absolute accuracy (each pixel)
- Noise (each pixel, 15 min av.)
- Dynamic range
- FSR (Full Scale Radiance)

< 2.4 Wm-2 sr-1 (i.e., <1%)
< 0.8 Wm-2 sr-1
0-380 Wm-2 sr-1
240 Wm-2 sr-1

< 0.4 Wm-2 sr-1 (i.e., < 0.5%)
< 0.15 Wm-2 sr-1
0-90 Wm-2 sr-1
77 Wm-2 sr-1

IFOV or pixel size (resolution)

44.6 km x 39.3 km (NS x EW) at nadir

Coverage, cycle time

Full Earth disk, all channels in 15 minutes


Spatial: 3 km with respect to SEVIRI at satellite sub-point
Temporal: within 15 minutes of SEVIRI at each pixel

Spectral and MTF

Performance specified by templates

Instrument mass; power; size

25 kg; 35 W average; 45 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm

Data rate

50.6 kbit/s

Table 10: GERB instrument performance parameters


Figure 29: Scan geometry of the GERB instrument (image credit: ICL)

The IOU measures 450 mm x 200 mm x 200 mm and contains the imaging optics, detector system, de-spin mirror and driving mechanism, the quartz filter mechanism, the on-board blackbody and the short wavelength calibration monitor.

The IEU receives detector data, formats it and passes it on to the spacecraft data-handling system. It also provides regulated power to all the subsystems, thermal control of the IOU, command and data interfaces and instrument health monitoring and control.

At the core of the GERB instrument is a broadband, three mirror telescope housed in the IOU. This views the Earth with a black wideband detector array, providing measurements of the Earth's output radiation in a total band, and a shortwave band. Shortwave measurements are accomplished by using a quartz filter to block the wavelengths beyond 4 µm. The longwave band is obtained by subtraction. GERB removes the effect of S/C spin (100 rpm) by means of a rotating mirror, this increases the length of available exposure time per spin [use of a de-scanning mirror for staring at appropriate targets, continuously rotating at 50 rpm in the opposite direction the the satellite's rotation at 100 rpm, thus freezing the view of the Earth for a period of 40 ms].


Figure 30: Photo of the scan mirror and telescope (image credit: ICL)


Figure 31: Layout of the IOU (Instrument Optical Unit), image credit: RAL

The detector consists of a 256-element blackened linear thermoelectric array, mounted in the N-S direction. This arrangement provides an image column per S/C rotation; a complete image is obtained by successive measurements of columns. Every 15 minutes a complete dataset of both, solar and total spectral band, is obtained for the entire area visible from geostationary orbit. The great advantage of GERB is its ability to sample a large region of the globe with high time resolution. GERB instrument data provides close synergies with other instruments such as CERES, ScaRaB, and with SEVIRI on MSG (observations from both geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites). 76)

ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) development for GERB detector: The SNR and timing requirements make it impossible to multiplex the detector pixel outputs. Also the low level of the detector output signals mean that at least part of the electronics chain needs to be in close proximity to the detector. Consequently, an ASIC solution was selected for the processing of the detector output pixels. The FPA design resulted in a complex composite focal plane structure making use of silicon and ceramic substrates and the integration of discrete semiconductor die. 77)


Figure 32: Schematic view of the GERB detector system (image credit: University of Leicester)


Figure 33: The GERB FPA unit with the four integrated ASICs (image credit: University of Leicester)


Figure 34: Illustration of the IOU inside the calibration tank for pre-flight calibration (image credit: RAL)

Instrument calibration: Extensive pre-calibrations were provided on the ground. In-flight calibration is provided by a blackbody source and a solar transmission diffuser. For zero reference space views are used. An image is obtained by measuring the signal difference between views of the on-board blackbody and the Earth-view at every rotation of the satellite using the thermoelectric detector. Possible degradation of the shortwave spectral response can be corrected by means of occasional comparisons with an onboard solar-illuminated integrating sphere. 78) 79) 80)

GERB-1 is the first ever Earth radiation budget/solar constant instrument in GEO. The analysis of simultaneous GERB and SEVIRI products provides the basis for new process studies. The first GERB image was received Nov. 28, 2002.


LEO (Low Earth Orbit)

GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit)


~ 700 km

35,786 km (~5.6 RE)

Orbital period

98.8 minutes

24 hours



Not global: observes only one region of globe


Poor spatial and temporal sampling: each point on globe sampled just once every day on dayside, once nightside

High time resolution
Excellent sampling of one region of the globe


Δx = 1.2 km for Δθ = 0.1º

Δx = 62 km for Δθ = 0.1º

Table 11: Comparison of some LEO and GEO observation parameters 81)


Figure 35: Photo of the GERB IOU instrument with thermal blanket (image credit: ICL)


Figure 36: Overview of GERB data flow (image credit: ICL)

GEOS&R (Geostationary Search and Rescue):

GEOS&R is a communications payload within the S&RSAT/COSPAS system. Provision of transparent relay function for search and rescue operations (a 406 MHz transponder is carried by the MSG satellites). 82)


Figure 37: GEOS&R payload functional diagram (image credit: COSPAS/SARSAT)

DCS (Data Collection System):

DCS is an on-board collection system. The current data rate of 100 bit/s for each DCP (Data Collection Platform) in the ground segment will continue to be supported by MSG operations. MSG supports a significantly increased number of simultaneously relayed messaging channels.

Nr. of channels supported

Channel bandwidth

Frequency Range (MHz)



1.5 kHz

401.7025 - 402.0010

Neighboring satellites' regional DCP band (contingency relay only, no MSG processing)


3.0 kHz

402.0025 - 402.0985

International DCP band


1.5 kHz

402.1015 - 402.4360

MSG regional DCP band

Table 12: Some DCS performance characteristics of the MSG satellites


Meteosat 1st generation (MOP)

Meteosat 2nd generation (MSG)

Visible channels


3 + HRV

Water vapor


2 channels

IR window (+absorption)

1 (+0)

6 (+2) channels

Sampling distance

VIS: 2.5 km, IR:5 km

VIS: 3 km, HRV:1 km, IR:3 km

Radiometric resolution

0.4 K

0.25 K

Image repeat cycle

30 minutes

15 minutes

Raw data rate

333 kbit/s

3.2 Mbit/s

Data collection system (DCS)

33 regional channels @ 0.1 kbit/s

33 international channels

210 regional channels @ .1 kbit/s

40 international channels

Primary dissemination

HRI: 166 kbit/s

HRIT: 1 Mbit/s

Secondary dissemination

WEFAX: analog

LRIT: 128 kbit/s

MDD (Met. Data Distribution)

MDD: up to 4x2 kbit/s

data in LRIT

DCP retransmission system

DRS: 12.5 kbit/s

data in LRIT

Table 13: Service comparison of 1st and 2nd generation Meteosat S/C 83)

MSG Ground Segment:

The MSG ground segment is composed of:

• MCC (Mission Control Center) located at ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany

• PGS (Primary Ground Station) located in Usingen, Germany

• BRGS (Backup and Ranging Ground Station) located in Maspalomas, Gran Canary Island, Spain

• An application ground segment, which extracts meteorological and geophysical products from the calibrated and geolocated image data generated by MCC, and performs data management functions. The application ground segment is composed of MPEF (Meteorological Product Extraction Facility) and U-MARF (Unified Meteorological Archive and Retrieval Facility), both are located at EUMETSAT HQ in Darmstadt, and a distributed network of SAFs (Satellite Application Facilities). There are five SAFs using MSG data, they are:

- SAF on Ocean and Sea Ice hosted by France

- SAF on support to Nowcasting & VSRF hosted by Spain

- SAF on Climate Monitoring (CM) hosted by Germany. Within the CM-SAF consortium six meteorological services [Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Konijklik Netherland Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Meteoswiss, the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMIB), and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)] jointly develop, implement, and validate satellite based climate monitoring products. DWD is the operations leading entity and responsible for the overall coordination and execution of the activities of the SAF on Climate Monitoring. 84)

- SAF on Numerical Weather Prediction hosted by the United Kingdom

- SAF on Land Surface Analysis hosted by Portugal

• User Ground Segment. This comprises all MSG user stations. These are receive-only systems, operated by the users, which make use of either LRIT (Low Rate Information Transmission) or HRIT (High Rate Information Transmission) from the MSG satellites.

MSG Communication Services and Data Distribution

The MSG communication subsystem provides an all digital data transmission capability. The communication payload consists of three subsystems, namely the antenna subsystem, the transponder subsystem (including the S&R transponder), and the TT&C subsystem. 85) 86)


Raw Data





Uplink frequency (MHz)






Downlink frequency (MHz)






Useful signal bandwidth (MHz)






Bit rate

7.5 Mbit/s

2.3 Mbit/s

290 kbit/s

100 bit/s

400 bit/s







Table 14: Summary of MSG communication-link characteristics




Reference Coverage



EDA (Electrically Despun Antenna)

Raw data transmission

HRIT & LRIT transmission

DCP transmission

S&R transmission

Elevation > 5º

Zone B



Linear horizontal


Slotted waveguide TPA (Toroidal Pattern Antenna)

HRIT & LRIT reception

Raw data transmission (backup)


Linear horizontal


Crossed dipoles circular array EDA

DCP reception

S&R reception

Full Earth coverage

Circular right-hand

S-band TT&C

Printed quadrifilar TPA

Telecommand reception

Telemetry transmission


Azimuth 360º

Elevation 120º from north axis


Table 15: Specification of some MSG antenna parameters


Figure 38: Schematic overview of the MCP (Mission Communication Payload), image credit: Alcatel Espace


Figure 39: The MSG system configuration (image credit: ESA, EUMETSAT) 87)


Figure 40: Overview of MSG ground segment (image credit: EUMETSAT) 88)

HRIT/LRIT Dissemination Service:

A primary objective of the Meteosat service is to deliver image data for nowcasting within a few minutes of the end of acquisition of each image, therefore the timeliness of data delivery is an issue of utmost importance.

Two dissemination channels are defined within the MSG system to broadcast data to end-users via (Low Rate and High Rate Information Transmission (LRIT/HRIT) schemes. Both channels multiplex image data from the SEVIRI and foreign satellites together with meteorological products and DCP data (link), within the limits of the defined packetized data rate. The limited channel capacity requires the use of data compression in order to maximize the amount of information to be transmitted. 89) 90)

• The HRIT data stream has a capacity of 1 Mbit/s which allows the reception of the disseminated level 1.5 data in quasi real-time and full spatial and temporal resolution. It is segmented, encrypted and JPEG-compressed for the purpose of transmission. The compression is lossless for all channels and lossy for the HRV (High Resolution Visible) channel.

• The LRIT data stream capacity is 128 kbit/s. The images are all compressed in a lossy manner (by about a factor of 8) in full spatial resolution with the image data rounded to 8 bits representation. The current baseline is that only every second image is disseminated.




Length of coded VCDU

1020 octets

Center frequency

1691.0 MHz

1695.15 MHz


0.660 MHz

1.960 MHz


linear horizontal

Packetized data rate

128 kbit/s

1 Mbit/s

Total coded data rate

293.9 kbit/s

2.3 Mbit/s




Pulse shaping

Raised cosine filter
Roll-off factor 1.0

Raised cosine filter
Roll-off factor <= to 0.7


Concatenated coding,
Reed-Solomon (255,223)+convolutional (1/2 rate, k=7)

Coding gain

9.4 dB

Eb/No for required probability of frame loss

2.8 dB

Achieved margins in case of nominal S/C and user station

Worst case 0 dB
Nominal case 3 dB

Table 16: Physical link parameters of the HRIT/LRIT service

Data Product


Level 1.0

SEVIRI and GERB data as observed by the satellite (raw data)

Level 1.5

Geometrically corrected, navigated, Earth located and calibrated SEVIRI data

Level 2.0

Geophysical parameters extracted from level 1.5 SEVIRI data by MPEF and SAFs

Level 3.0

Further products derived from level 2.0 SEVIRI data by some SAFs

Table 17: MSG generic data products

EUMETCast (EUMETSAT's Multicast Distribution System)

EUMETCast is EUMETSAT's data distribution service transmitted via EutelSat's HotBird-6 satellite in GEO located at 13º E longitude. The service was initiated at the end of April 2003 utilizing data file distribution via DVB-S (Digital Video Broadcast-Satellite) to a wide audience located within the geographical coverage zone which includes most of Europe and all EUMETSAT Member States and Cooperating States.

The extension of the system includes coverage over the African continent (trials started in August 2003). The overall trial period of EUMETCast, designed to fully test the system infrastructure, ended in late 2003, and the service became fully operational as the primary 0º longitude service in late January 2004 with the satellite having then been drifted from its commissioning location (10º W). 91) 92) 93)

The following EUMETCast services are available:

• Meteosat-8 (former MSG-1) routine Meteosat-8 operational services. This consists of: full HRIT data - 12 channel SEVIRI data every ¼ hour. Full LRIT data - 5 channel reduced SEVIRI data ¼ hourly + foreign satellite relays - GOES-E, GOES-W, [GOMS]/Meteosat-5 Indian Ocean and GMS/MTSAT/GOES (temporary replacement).

• EUMETSAT ATOVS (Advanced TOVS - a NOAA/NESDIS processing system) Retransmission Service (EARS)

• Rapid Scanning Service (RSS)

The EUMETCast system is based on a client/server system architecture. The server site is implemented at the EUMETCast uplink site (Usingen, Germany) and the client side installed on the individual EUMETCast reception stations. The DVB multicast distribution mechanism is provided by the telecommunication network providers. Data/product files are transferred via a dedicated communications line from EUMETSAT to the uplink facility. These files are encoded and transmitted to a geostationary communications satellite for broadcast to user receiving stations. Each receiving station decodes the signal and recreates the data/products according to a defined directory and file name structure.

The system uses a DVB/MPEG-2 based transport for carrying IP datagrams. It uses a set of broadcast satellite forward channels, but does not use the return channel. The forward links are provided by a set of geostationary, digital telecommunications satellites.

The geographic coverage of a DVB is determined by the characteristics of the spacecraft and its associated antenna beams. In the current operational configuration, EUMETCast reception is available in:

• European service in Ku-band via HotBird-6 (starting from November 2002)

• African service in C-band via AtlanticBird-2 (from November 2003, available in demonstration mode from August 2003, full service provision from Aug. 2005 onwards)

• American service in C-band via NewSkies-806

Reception station requirements: A typical EUMETCast reception station consists of a standard PC with DVB card inserted and a satellite offset antenna fitted with a digital universal V/H LNB. In addition, users require the multicast client software. As EUMETCast operates a tq®-TELLICAST server, the tq®-TELLICAST client software is mandatory and a licence is required for each user station. The tq®-TELLICAST client software used with EUMETCast must be purchased directly from EUMETSAT, all other components of the reception station are commercially available.


Figure 41: Overview of the EUMETCast system (image credit: EUMETSAT)

Background: EUMETSAT was forced to abandon its conventional meteorological data dissemination service when the MeteoSat-8 weather satellite rebroadcast function (i.e. its ability to retransmit data once it has been pre-processed on the ground) malfunctioned in orbit on Oct. 17, 2002 (just 6 weeks after launch). In particular, the SSPA-C (Solid State Power Amplifier-C) failed which was to be used to re-broadcast the data that had been processed by the EUMETSAT control center. 94)

Scrambling to find a quick operational retransmission solution, EUMETSAT decided to lease a small amount of commercial telecommunication satellite capacity to retransmit the data in Ku-band to its customers via the HotBird-6 of EutelSat. However, EUMETCast required also that users purchased new satellite reception equipment and pay for the transmission fee.

The switch to a commercial service provider permitted EUMETSAT to send larger amounts of data at faster rates to a much larger user community. EUMETSAT and the EU later extended the EUMETCast service by funding data reception equipment in Africa, using C-band capacity leased aboard the AtlanticBird-3 satellite of EutelSat.

In addition, EUMETSAT has leased capacity on the NewSkies-806 satellite of SES, also in C-band, to provide data services to portions of South America (the regions that are covered by the Meteosat observations).

As of 2006, about 1800 EUMETCast PC-based stations have been installed worldwide, so that MSG imagery from MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) satellites are available in less than 5 minutes from sensing time to end users.

The following environmental data streams and products are delivered via EUMETCast in 2006:

• Meteosat first generation image data

• Meteosat second generation image data

• GOES East & West image data

• MTSAT image data

• DCP & MDD in-situ and forecast data

• EUMETSAT meteorological products

• Land and OSI SAF products

• NOAA POES regional products

• DWDSAT products from DWD

• SPOT VEGETATION products from VITO

• Basic Meteorological Data (BMD) for WMO RA VI

• Metop Global Data Service

• NOAA POES Global Area Coverage

• Metop Regional Data Service

• GRAS and Ozone SAF products

The current EUMETCast system is seen as an emerging prototype candidate of a future GEONETCast service, a global system in its definition phase at GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems). An important step into the direction of a unified Earth observation approach was done at the GEO (Group on Earth Observations) summit in Tokyo, Japan, on April 25, 2004 when GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) was created. GEOSS is an international framework to develop a 10‐year implementation plan (for the period 2005‐2015), a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained system that will help to better understand Earth systems, including weather, climate, oceans, water cycle, geology, ecosystems, agriculture and biodiversity, energy, disasters, etc. Representatives of 47 countries and more than a dozen international organizations [UN (UNEP, FAO, UNESCO), ESA, EUMETSAT, EC, ECMWF, ISCU, WMO, IGOS‐P, CEOS, WCRP, etc.] were present at the ad hoc GEO (Group on Earth Observations) summit, signing the document (the finalization of a draft implementation plan).

The 10‐year GEOSS program implementation plan was formally approved/adopted by government delegates at the 3rd Earth Observation Summit on February 16, 2005 in Brussels, Belgium. Nearly 60 nations and about 40 international organizations are working to establish the emerging network of Earth observation systems.

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The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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