In 1977, ESA (the European Space Agency) launched the first European meteorological satellite, Meteosat-1. Meteosat First Generation satellites are geostationary satellites able to deliver a new image of a specific part of the Earth every half hour. The MVIRI sensor ((METEOSAT Visible and Infra-Red Imager) on board Meteosat First Generation satellites provides images which are used primarily for weather forecasts and to monitor the evolution of cloud formation and movements.

The Meteosat Operational Programme was transferred to EUMETSAT in 1983. The last satellite of this family, Meteosat-7, had been launched in 1997.

altitude: 36,000 km
inclination: 0.3°
orbit: Geosynchronous (geostationary)

satellite: Meteosat-7 (02/09/1997 -operational)

MVIRI sensor

Band width
Visible (VIS) 0,45 - 1,0 µm 2,5 km
Thermal Infrared (TIR) 10,5 - 12,5 µm 5 km
Water vapour (WV) 5,7 - 7,1 µm 5 km

Meteosat Second Generation

Almost 25 years after the November 1977 launch of the very first Meteosat, the first representative of the next generation (MSG-1) of European weather satellites has been placed in orbit. First known as MSG-1, then renamed Meteosat-8, it had been put into operational service above the equator, where it had replaced Meteosat-7 as the main weather- and climate-monitoring satellite. Thus, the MSG satellites are carrying on the uninterrupted monitoring performed by their predecessors over the past quarter of a century, generating a multitude of data essential to the understanding and modelling of our planet's climatic activity. Meteosat-8 was followed by 3 satellites, fully supported by Eumetsat, Meteosat-9, 10 and 11.

altitude: 36 000 km
inclination: 0.3°
orbit: Geosynchronous (geostationary)

satellites : Meteosat-8 (28/08/2002 - operational)
  Meteosat-9 (21/12/2005 - operational)
  Meteosat-10 (05/07/2012 - operational)
  Meteosat-11 (15/07/2015 - operational)

The two main instruments on board MSG satellites are the SEVIRI and GERB radiometers.

SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible & Infrared Imager) is able to supply, at intervals of 15 minutes (compared to 30 with the first generation), images of the hemisphere observed by the satellite in 12 different visible and infrared wavelengths (a fourfold increase). This enrichment of the spectrum of observations was a major advance, making for improvement of numerical climate modelling. By delivering data at twice the previous frequency, MSG satellites make it easier for climatologists and meteorologists to detect the start of sudden weather phenomena, such as snow, thunderstorms and fog. With the improvement of image resolution in the visible spectrum, to 1 km from 2.5 km previously, observation and monitoring of local phenomena have been improved as well.

Band width
VIS 0,6 0,56 - 0,71 µm
VIS 0,8 0,74 - 0,88 µm
IR 1,6 1,50 - 1,78 µm
IR 3,9 3,48 - 4,36 µm
IR 8,7 8,30 - 9,10 µm
IR 10,8 9,80 - 11,80 µm
IR 12,0 11,00 - 13,00 µm
WV 6,2 5,35 - 7,15 µm
WV 7,3 6,85 - 7,85 µm
IR 9,7 9,38 - 9,94 µm
IR 13,4 12,40 - 14,40 µm
High Res VIS,1 km: HRV 0,5 - 0,9 µm

The GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) radiometer supplies crucial data on the Earth's radiation budget - the balance between the incoming radiation from the sun and the radiation returned to space. The radiation budget, about which much has yet to be learnt, plays a key role in climate change.

Meteosat Third Generation
The MTG system is being established through cooperation between EUMETSAT and the European Space Agency (ESA). The MTG series will comprise six satellites, with the first spacecraft likely to be ready for launch from 2017. The programme should guarantee access to space-acquired meteorological data until at least the late 2030s.

In Belgium, weather forecasts are prepared on the basis of the Meteosat images received and interpreted by the Royal Meteorological Institute (IRM).

Mission website

Data distributor : Eumetsat

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