Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) is a joint project between ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) and follows up the success of the first generation Meteosat weather satellite series with a larger design boasting higher performance.
The first in a planned series of four MSG satellites was launched in 2002, entering into service with Eumetsat in early 2004 and now renamed Meteosat-8. The second MSG, Meteosat-9, was launched on 21 December 2005 and MSG-3 was launched on 5 July 2012. They were all launched on an Ariane 5 from the same launch site - Kourou in French Guiana.
The MSG satellites continually return detailed imagery of Europe, the North Atlantic and Africa every 15 minutes, for operational use by meteorologists.
The reason for duplication is simply to guarantee continuity of service in case of satellite failure. Weather satellites have become so crucial a part of our daily life that any long gap in service coverage has become inconceivable.
The launch of MSG-3 was timed for the smooth transition from the ageing Meteosat-8, which has greatly exceeded its expected lifetime. The fourth satellite (MSG-4) is planned for a launch in 2014.
The MSG series will guarantee continuity of service through to around 2021.
Last update: 6 July 2012