How MSG works

MSG views one quarter of Earth's disc
MSG views one quarter of Earth

MSG-2 (redesignated Meteosat-9) currently serves as the prime operational meteorological satellite for Europe. The third MSG satellite was launched on 5 July 2012 and will soon take over.

MSG monitors a quarter of the Earth and its atmosphere from a fixed position in geostationary orbit at 0º longitude, 35 800 km above the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of equatorial Africa.

The satellites transmit raw data from the SEVIRI and GERB instruments to the Eumetsat control and processing centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via its primary ground control station in Usingen. GERB data are forwarded to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, UK, for processing.

Eumetsat, with support from other satellite applications facilities throughout Europe, extracts information from the processed SEVIRI data and turns it into 'products' of particular use to meteorologists and climatologists, such as wind field diagrams, maps of upper tropospheric humidity and analyses of cloud shape and height.

MSG products
Example of MSG products

These products and processed images are distributed to the users via the dedicated EUMETCast Direct Video Broadcast (DVB) service. In addition the MSG series includes a backup communication system that can be used to distribute products and images to users across the satellite's footprint.
On MSG-1 this system was put out of action by a faulty amplifier, this fault being corrected on the subsequent MSGs.

MSGs also carry a transponder to detect and relay distress signals from ships and aircraft transmitted by distress beacons to an international rescue network by the Cospas-Sarsat Programme.

Last update: 6 July 2012

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