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Metop-A completes 20,000th orbit
27 August 2010
European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
Metop-A, Europe’s first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology, will complete its 20,000th orbit of the Earth on 27 August delivering its data to the EUMETSAT Polar System ground station on Svalbard around lunchtime.
Since its launch on 19 October 2006, from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, Metop-A has travelled over 900 million km and brought in a new era in the way the Earth's weather, climate and environment are observed - with its state-of-the-art sounding and imaging instruments.
Dieter Klaes, EPS Programme Scientist, said, “For me it’s very impressive how Metop-A seems to work like clockwork and as a result its planned lifetime has already been extended by a year. The data that Metop-A collects are now used by meteorologists in Europe and all over the world, and its impact on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) is well recognised.
In particular, onboard instruments such as the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) have made a huge difference to our understanding of atmospheric chemistry, and what is particularly exciting is that IASI has much more capability than was originally foreseen. One example is that it has recently been used to monitor carbon monoxide levels over Russia after the recent wildfires.”
The EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) involves 3 satellites and the remaining two Metop satellites of will be launched in 2012 and 2016. Each satellite has a nominal lifetime in orbit of 5 years, with a 6 month overlap between the consecutive satellites, providing altogether more than 14 years of service.
“Another key role of the Metop series of satellites is to help build up time series of climate data. As an example, sounding instruments onboard Metop-A, which measure vertical profiles of temperature and humidity in the atmosphere, are contributing to data sets that date back a couple of decades already. The longer the time series, the better scientists are able to understand changes in our climate”, Dieter said.
The EUMETSAT Polar System is operated by EUMETSAT and has been developed, procured and implemented in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Metop-A in orbit