18 September 2012
MetOp-B was launched on 17 September from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, atop a Russian Soyuz launcher.
The Soyuz launcher lifted off at 16:28. The weather satellite was released into a polar orbit, at an altitude of 810 km some 69 minutes later. This happened over the Kerguelen Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Mission controllers at ESA’s Operations Centre in Germany are now monitoring the satellite.
In the coming days the satellite’s systems will be tested. It will then start its routine service with MetOp-A in about six months, supplying us with information on the weather and atmosphere.
MetOp-B will be taking over from MetOp-A, which has been monitoring the planet’s weather and atmosphere since 2006. It will circle the globe from pole to pole, 14 times a day.
Unlike the Meteosat satellites, which watch about half of our planet from a fixed point almost 36 000 km above the Gulf of Guinea, MetOps work at lower altitude and fly over the whole globe to provide even more data on the atmosphere.