Spin up test for weather satellite
A new European meteorological satellite that will provide daily data for weather forecasters well into the next decade has completed a series of stringent tests and is now being prepared for storage prior to launch.
The accompanying movie shows the flight model of the first Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite being spun at high speeds in a simulation designed to prepare it for a rigorous ten-year life in the harsh environment of space.
MSG-1, due to be launched in the summer of 2002, will reside in geostationary orbit where it can obtain a full globe view of weather patterns affecting Europe and the continent of Africa. The cylindrical satellite is spin-stabilised and in orbit will rotate at an operational speed of 100 rpm.
The spin test, performed with the satellite mounted on a specially designed spin-table, is therefore a key part of its final evaluation. It validates all operations that depend on the spin movement of the satellite, like correct de-spinning of the L-band and UHF-band communications antennae, and the east-west scan of the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI), the main instrument which will take images of the Earth every 15 minutes.
MSG is a cooperative programme between ESA and Eumetsat, an organisation set up in 1986 to establish, maintain and operate a European system of meteorological satellites. Three MSG satellites are planned at present. ESA is designing and developing the first and will procure the other two on behalf of Eumetsat, which is responsible for defining the payload based on user needs, procuring the ground segment and launchers, and eventually operating the system.
All three MSG satellites will be launched from the European site in French Guiana on either an Ariane-4 or Ariane-5. MSG-2 is planned for launch some 18 months after the first and together with MSG-1 will form a two-satellite operational system. A third will be launched about four years after the second to ensure that a continuous service for the European meteorological community is maintained for at least 12 years.