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N° 38–2012: Meteosat Third Generation agreement signed at Ministerial meeting

21 November 2012

The European Space Agency and EUMETSAT today signed the agreement on the Meteosat Third Generation weather satellite system at the ESA Ministerial Council in Naples, Italy.


Signed by Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA, and Alain Ratier, Director General of EUMETSAT, the agreement determines the principles of cooperation between the two agencies when establishing the various components of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system and carrying out the related activities.

Following a complex and rigorous review process to select the industrial consortium, the subsequent negotiations to reach full contract signature and the implementation of ESA best practices to complete the industrial team, this signing is the final step in implementing the decisions on MTG cooperation that were agreed at the ESA Ministerial Council in 2008.

The agreement continues the cooperation model that has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology, making best use of the two agencies’ respective competences.

ESA develops the MTG prototype satellite to meet the user and system requirements defined by EUMETSAT, and procures recurrent satellites on its behalf.

EUMETSAT develops the ground control systems and the infrastructure to deliver products and services to users and to respond to their evolving needs, procures launch services and operates the full system for the benefit of users.

This process also involves European industry through contracts with ESA and EUMETSAT, capitalising on upstream European research and development, and stimulating the competitiveness and growth of European industry.

This cooperation model also underpins the joint efforts on the Metop Second Generation (Metop-SG) programme, the next generation of polar-orbiting Metop satellites, the important second pillar of the European contribution to global weather and climate monitoring for 2020–40.

Metop-SG is being discussed at the Ministerial Council in Naples and is being proposed by ESA to Member States for subscription as an ESA optional programme.

About Meteosat Third Generation

The MTG series will comprise four imaging and two sounding satellites. The MTG-I imaging satellites will carry the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Lightning Imager. The MTG-S sounding satellites – a first for Meteosat – will carry an Infrared Sounder (IRS) and an Ultraviolet Visible Near-Infrared spectrometer, which will be provided by ESA as the GMES Sentinel-4 mission.

On the MTG-I satellites, FCI will scan the full Earth disc every 10 minutes using 16 spectral channels at very high spatial resolutions, from 2 km to 0.5 km. In ‘fast imagery mode’ it will be capable of a repeat cycle of 2.5 minutes over a quarter of the disc.

FCI will give increased support to nowcasting and very short-range forecasts (up to six hours) of high-impact weather such as thunderstorms or fog. It will also offer better capabilities for monitoring aerosols, making an important contribution to air-quality monitoring.

With its higher-resolution capability in the thermal–infrared, FCI will provide improved fire detection and an increase in the quality of various climate-relevant products.

The Lightning Imager will continuously monitor lightning activity in near-real time, supporting nowcasting of severe storms and warnings of lightning strikes, information that, in particular, will improve air navigation services close to airports and en route.

On the MTG-S satellites, IRS will provide detailed vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature and humidity at a high spatial resolution of 4 km. These data will feed into advanced regional Numerical Weather Prediction models expected to be used in the future for nowcasting and very short-range weather forecasting.

By monitoring atmospheric instability, the new sounder will also contribute to better early warnings of severe thunderstorms and is expected to provide unique information from geostationary orbit on ozone, carbon monoxide and volcanic ash composition within the atmosphere.

The primary objective of the GMES Sentinel-4 mission will be to support air-quality monitoring and forecasting over Europe, in full synergy with the IRS sounder.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with nine other Member States of the EU and is negotiating an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

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For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Communication Department

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99

Fax: +33 1 53 69 76 90




The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 26 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and five Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania and Serbia).

EUMETSAT operates the Meteosat-8 and -9 geostationary satellites over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean. The third Meteosat Second Generation satellite, MSG-3, was launched on 5 July 2012 and will be renamed Meteosat-10 after commissioning is complete.

Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007. It will be replaced by Metop-B, which was launched on 17 September 2012.

The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea-level change to the missions that EUMETSAT conducts.

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.

Media Relations EUMETSAT:

Tel: +49 6151 807 7320

Fax: +49 6151 807 7321



For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office

Tel: +33(0)1.5369.7299

Fax: +33(0)1.5369.769