One of the most mature uses of Earth-observation data is in weather predication. For several decades now, near-realtime meteorological satellite images have been at the heart of our daily weather bulletins.
Numerous atmospheric chemistry instruments and various techniques are also used to measure the composition of Earth's atmosphere. These data are used in a wide range of applications, such as operational meteorology, volcanic eruption monitoring, air quality forecasts, for climate studies and to support policy making.
Copernicus Contributing Missions carrying atmospheric instruments complement the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions and include the following:
The US-French Calipso mission is part of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder programme.
Launched in 2006, it carries a cloud-aerosol lidar, an imaging infrared radiometer and a wide-field camera to provide data clouds and aerosols.
Envisat's instrument package included three instruments dedicated to atmospheric monitoring: GOMOS, MIPAS and Sciamachy.
GOMOS is a medium resolution spectrometer, primarily to measure stratospheric ozone. MIPAS is a Fourier transform spectrometer to provide data on trace gases in the middle and upper atmosphere. Sciamachy is an imaging spectrometer to provide global measurements of trace gases in the troposphere and stratosphere.
The German-French climate Merlin mission is planned to launch in 2014 to measure atmospheric concentrations of methane. The instrument, a two-wave laser, is based on concepts and technical applications that have been developed and refined over 10 years.
The two adjacent wave lengths at 1.645 μm are well suited to determine the methane concentrations in lower layers of the atmosphere.
Meteosat Second Generation
Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) is a joint project between ESA and Eumetsat. MSG follows up the success of the first generation of geostationary Meteosat weather satellites.
In 2002, the existing Meteosats were joined by the first MSG satellite, which entered service as Meteosat-8. A second MSG (Meteosat-9) was launched in 2005, followed by MSG-3 in 2012. A fourth satellite is planned for launch in 2014.
Continuity of the programme is set to be provided by the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG), with the first satellite planned for launch in 2017.
The Meteorological Operational satellite programme (MetOp) is Europe's contribution to providing meteorological data for weather forecasting and climate studies from polar orbit.
The programme's series of three satellites has been realised through collaboration between ESA and Eumetsat and forms the space segment of Eumetsat's Polar System. MetOp-A was launched in 2006 and MetOp-B followed in 2012.
Last update: 27 April 2015