MOO Reports:
Meteosat: Europe's main weather satellite

If you look at any satellite map of Europe, chances are that it is from Meteosat (Meteorological Satellite). It is a geostationary satellite, which means it stays above the same part of the earth permanently. Such satellites must of a special orbit - 42000km to be precise. This means that Meteosat never goes below the 'horizon' and so pictures can be received 24/7. The main Meteosat is orbiting at 0 degrees on the equator although there is a second at 63 degrees.

The "Meteosat" is run by EUMETSAT, part of the controversial European Space Agency. EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organisation created through an international convention agreed by 17 European Member States: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

There are several "Meteosat's"; Meteosat-7, was launched on 2 September 1997. A second generation of Meteosat's are currently being worked on in Europe ensuring Meteosat observations can be received well into the 21st century. The first should be in action (if the Arianne space rocket does not blow up) in 2003

Meteosat can transmit three types of images: Visible, Infrared and Water Vapour.

Meteosat is 2.1 metres in diameter and 3.195 metres long. Its mass in orbit is 282 kg. In orbit, the satellite spins at 100 rpm around its main axis.

The primary mission of the Meteosat system is to generate images of the earth, showing its cloud system both by day and by night, day in day out, and to transmit these images to the users in the shortest practical time.

John Dray



. 1999-2003 Justin Taylor / John Dray

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