Next-Generation Polar-Orbiting Weather Satellite Gets Ready for Space Launch

We hardly ever think about the amazing technology that’s being developed and put into motion so that we can get our daily weather forecast. Thanks to aerospace companies that are sharing some of the developmental milestones for these types of technologies, we can get a glimpse of what’s behind an advanced weather satellite.
The MetOp-SG B Series satellite will carry microwave instruments for weather forecasting 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
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Airbus is getting closer to launching a next-generation weather satellite. Implemented by the European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT, the MetOp-SG program is based on a satellite fleet that will provide meteorological observations from a polar orbit for the next 20 years, starting from 2024.

The fleet consists of two series of satellites, with three units each. The Satellite A series will carry optical instruments and atmospheric sounders, while the B series will be equipped with microwave instruments. Airbus is currently working on the first satellite in the B series. The almost 20-foot tall satellite structure was integrated with the propulsion system, at the company’s satellite integration center in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

The propulsion system is meant to enable the MetOp-SG to maintain its altitude throughout the entire mission and conduct a controlled re-entry over the South Pacific, when the mission is over. In order to do that, the propulsion system integrates 12 thrusters of 20 Newton each, which enable anti-collision maneuvers, plus a tank that can carry 1,676 lbs (760 kg) of hydrazine fuel, plus the 400N main engine.

After completion, this MetOp-SG satellite will be launched into space, where it will operate at an altitude of around 516 miles (831 km), on the MetOp sun-synchronous polar orbit. Each of the satellites, weighing approximately four tons, will be launched separately, and operate for 7.5 years.

When the operational life of one satellite comes to an end, the following one in the same series is launched. This way, ESA will ensure full operational coverage, for the next 21 years. The Satellite A series is being built in France, while the B series is being built in Germany. The MetOp-SG will operate A and B satellites in pairs, making sure that one unit for each type is always in orbit.

Thanks to their highly-advanced instruments, these next-generation satellites are expected to take weather prediction to an even more advanced level, both locally and globally.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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