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N° 81–2002: Innovative instrument on board MSG-1 delivers key information about the Earth’s climate

13 December 2002

The GERB instrument onboard the MSG-1 (Meteosat Second Generation) satellite took its first measurements yesterday, Thursday 12 December. The results of such measurements are pictured in images that identify the likely areas where there is a net gain or loss of energy in the Earth’s climate system.

GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) is a research instrument initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA). It will enable experts to study the Earth’s radiation budget and its potential influence on the climate. Flown on board EUMETSAT's MSG-1 geostationary satellite, it will provide continuous measurements covering a whole hemisphere.

Eva Oriol-Pibernat, MSG Mission Manager at ESA: “GERB will enable us to follow trends in key climate parameters from a fixed point in orbit. Combining these results with data gathered by ESA’s Envisat and ERS-2 satellites, Europe will thus be able to contribute significantly to the monitoring of climate and the environment”.

GERB is a scanning radiometer with two broadband channels, one sensitive to the Earth’s total outgoing radiation, the other covering a short waveband only. The difference between the two channels provides an estimate of the energy radiated out from Earth to space. This measurement can be used to estimate the energy driving the Earth’s climate system. Used in synergy with SEVIRI, the main imager on MSG-1, GERB will enable scientists to study the role of clouds or water vapour in the radiation balance, which will have a direct impact on climate models.

GERB development has been supported scientifically by an international team headed by Professor J. Harries from Imperial College in London, UK. Lead funding for the instrument came from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The instrument was developed by a European consortium headed by the UK Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), together with Belgium (Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium - RMI. Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems - AMOS) and Italy (Officine Galileo). GERB instruments will also be flown on MSG-2 and MSG-3, and funded by Eumetsat.

The MSG programme consists of three advanced meteorological satellites and is a ESA/EUMETSAT joint programme. ESA developed the first satellite and is procuring the others on behalf of EUMETSAT. EUMETSAT defines user requirements and is responsible for all launches, ground segment development and system operations for at least 12 years. Procurement of a fourth satellite in the same family is currently under discussion.

For further information contact:

Eva Oriol-Pibernat

ESA MSG Mission Manager

Tel: +39 06 94180408

Fax: +39 06 94180362

ESA Media Relations Service

Tel + 33 1 53 69 7155

Fax: + 33 1 53 69 7690

More info on ESA at:

More info on EUMETSAT at:

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Service
Tel: +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)

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