In 2006, the launch of MetOp-A marked a new era in operational meteorology. It was Europe’s first weather satellite to orbit Earth from pole to pole, just over 800 km high, complementing the long-standing series of Meteosat satellites that hover 36 000 km above the equator in geostationary orbit. The programme comprises a series of three identical satellites carrying an array of instruments. The MetOp satellites are developed by ESA under a cooperation agreement to form the space segment of the Eumetsat Polar System. This system is Europe’s contribution to a multi-orbit polar system shared with the US NOAA agency.
The instrument package includes: Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU-A), which measures the temperature of atmosphere; Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT), which measures surface wind speed over the ocean; Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR/3), which images clouds, the ocean and land surfaces; Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2), which profiles atmospheric ozone; Global Navigation Satellite System Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding (GRAS), which measures temperature of the upper troposphere and stratosphere; Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI), measures temperature and humidity; Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS), which measures humidity; Space Environment Monitor (SEM), which measures charged particles; Advanced Data Collection (ARGOS), for location and dissemination of measurements.