August 7, 2012

New ESA Weather MSG-3 Satellite Captures First Image

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

The European Space Agency's latest weather satellite has capture its first image of the Earth, the agency said.

The MSG-3 satellite captured the first image using the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument.

The satellite launched on July 5, and ESA said it is performing well and on its way to taking over operational service after six months of commissioning.

ESA said it was responsible for the initial operations of MSG-3 after launch, and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on July 16.

The geostationary weather satellite's first image was a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT, and the European space industry.

ESA said that EUMETSAT relies on ESA to develop new satellites, and also the procurement of recurrent satellites like MSG-3.

"This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the respective expertise of the two agencies," ESA said in a press release.

The new satellite is the third part of the Meteosat Second Generation of satellites, which was introduced in 2002.

The SEVIRI instrument aboard the satellites is designed to help enhance weather coverage over Europe and Africa in order to improve very short range forecasts

The instrument scans Earth's surface and atmosphere every 15 minutes in 12 different wavelengths, to track cloud envelopment.

SEVIRI can pick out features less than a mile across in the visible bands, and a little under two miles across in the infrared.

ESA said that in addition to its weather-watching mission, MSG has two secondary payloads aboard it as well.

The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget sensor measures both the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space, and the infrared energy radiated by the Earth system. Having a better understanding of this will give scientists an even better grasps about our climate processes.

The satellite's Search & Rescue transponder aboard its payload will turn it into a relay for distress signals from emergency beacons.

MSG-3 will be followed up by the fourth installment in the series, MSG-4. This satellite is expected to launch sometime in 2015.