Beside the gostationary satellites system, Eumetsat has set up an operational meteorological satellite system based on polar orbiting satellites. The Eumetsat Polar System (EPS) is the European contribution to a joint European-US satellite system, called the Initial Joint Polar-Orbiting Operational Satellite System (IJPS). This is an agreement between EUMETSAT and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The EPS programme consists of a series of three polar orbiting Metop satellites, to be flown successively and which should guarantee access to data until the late 2020’s.

Compared with geostationary satellites, instruments on polar satellites deliver more detailed data (higher spatial resolution) but with a much lower temporal resolution. The first polar satellite, Metop-A was launched in October 2006 and carries on board more than a dozen instruments intended to make atmospheric soundings (pressure, moisture profiles, temperature, ozone concentrations…) at various altitude and with different profiles, and to map wind speeds over the oceans.

Metop-A has been designed to collect data in conjunction with the NOAA satellites system, the two satellites flying in complementary orbits in order to ensure global data coverage at intervals of no more than 6 hours. Metop-B was launched in 2012 and MetOp-C, the third satellite is planned for 2018.

altitude: 817 km
inclination: 98,8°
orbit: sun-synchronus polar
orbit period: 101 min
repeat cycle: 29 days

satellites : Metop-A (19/10/2006 - operational)
  Metop-B (17/09/2012 - operational)

Metop carries 7 instruments inherited from NOAA, including AMSU-A (Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A), AVHRR/3 (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and HIRS/4 (High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder), as well as 5 new generation European instruments:
IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer)
MHS (Microwave Humidity Sounder)
GRAS (Global Navigation System Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding)
ASCAT (Advanced Scatterometer)
GOME-2 (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2)


Mission website

Access to data: Eumetsat

An introduction to the EUMETSAT Polar System

ESA Metop website

First METOP image over Europe (25 October 2010)
© Meteo France