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EUMETSAT takes over control of Metop-C and starts flight operations of a three-Metop constellation

(12 November 2018 - EUMETSAT) After three days of intensive testing by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), EUMETSAT has taken over control of its newest polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, Metop-C, and started flight operations of a constellation of three Metop satellites.

ESOC started the Metop-C launch and early operations phase (LEOP) on 7 November, immediately after the spacecraft separated from the launcher’s upper stage, and concluded it on 10 November.

The purpose of the LEOP was to ensure that the desired orbit was achieved, that the solar array and all antennas of the satellite were deployed and that all on-board systems required to support the mission were activated, properly configured and working correctly.

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Metop-C (courtesy: EUMETSAT)

“Teams at ESA’s European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt checked all of Metop-C’s systems, the power, temperature, software and telecommunication links,” said Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations.

“Our teams were happy to hand over to EUMETSAT a fully configured and healthy Metop-C after performing the initial, critical operations as part of the long lasting cooperation between the two agencies in the field of meteorological and Earth observation missions.”

EUMETSAT Director of Operations and Services to Users Livio Mastroddi said, “This successful handover means that we now perform flight operations of a constellation of three Metop satellites, including Metop-C.”

EUMETSAT Director of Programme Preparation and Development Cristian Bank said, “Over the next six weeks, we will perform in-orbit commissioning of the Metop-C satellite in partnership with ESA, CNES and NOAA, switching all 13 instruments and checking their performance and the quality of output data. After that, over three months, our scientists will calibrate and validate the products we extract from the data.”

Metop-C is expected to become fully operational in early spring 2019, as the third and primary satellite of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS).

“With Metop-A and Metop-B, our EPS system is already the source of observations that has the highest positive impact on the accuracy of weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead. Studies show that this impact has socio-economic benefits of €5 billion per year to Europe, and this will certainly increase with a third satellite,” EUMETSAT Director-General Alain Ratier said.

“Metop-C will also secure the transition to the EPS-Second Generation system we are developing in cooperation with ESA,” he said. “We plan to launch the first Metop-Second Generation satellite at the end of 2022.”

About EUMETSAT

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 30 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat -9, -10 and -11 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-8 over the Indian Ocean.

EUMETSAT operates two Metop polar-orbiting satellites as part of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) shared with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Metop-C is the third.

EUMETSAT is also a partner in the cooperative sea level monitoring Jason missions (Jason-2, Jason-3 and Jason-CS/Sentinel-6) involving Europe and the United States.

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and climate change.

The European Union has entrusted EUMETSAT with exploiting the four Sentinel missions of the Copernicus space component dedicated to the monitoring of atmosphere, ocean and climate on its behalf. EUMETSAT carries out these tasks in cooperation with ESA and already exploits theSentinel-3 marine mission.

EUMETSAT has established cooperation with operators of Earth Observation satellites from Europe and China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.