Signing of a contract with EUMETSAT for the construction of ESA’s Arctic meteorological satellite


Signing of a contract with EUMETSAT for the construction of ESA’s Arctic meteorological satellite

Press release from: European Space Agency
Posted: Tuesday March 9th 2021

With the need to receive satellite data more frequently for faster Arctic weather forecast updates, ESA has signed a contract with OHB Sweden to build a prototype satellite for the Arctic Weather Satellite mission. .

This prototype is the precursor to a potential constellation of satellites that would provide an almost constant stream of temperature and humidity data from every location on Earth – enabling, for the first time, very short-term weather forecasts, or “immediate forecast”, in The arctic. Meteorologists will also use the mission to improve weather forecasts around the world.

Accurate weather forecasts are an essential part of everyday life, from simply deciding what to wear, to planning the harvesting of crops, the routing of ships, and the management of renewable energy resources.

Today, satellites, both in geostationary and polar orbit, provide a wealth of information that meteorologists routinely use to forecast the weather, however, monitoring of the Arctic remains insufficient.

The European Meteosat geostationary satellites positioned 36,000 km above the equator return images every 15 minutes over the whole of the Earth and every five minutes over Europe, they have no visibility of higher latitudes high, closer to the poles, and therefore cannot be used for Arctic weather forecasting.

Although MetOp satellites send data back over the poles as they orbit the Earth from pole to pole in a lower orbit, they need up to 24 hours to achieve global coverage.

By providing global measurements of atmospheric temperature and humidity with frequent revisit times, the polar-orbiting Arctic weather satellite mission will complement MetOp and its US counterpart NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System. This will improve weather forecasting, especially in the Arctic, which until now lacked the data needed for short-term forecasting.

The Arctic Weather Satellite mission is planned as a possible constellation – but as a first step, ESA has now put in place a contract to develop, build, launch and operate a prototype satellite. This also encompasses the New Space approach in proving new concepts in a cost effective and timely manner.

The contract, worth more than 32 million euros, was signed today by Toni Tolker-Nielsen, Acting Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA and Benoit Mathieu, Director General of HBO Sweden. Mr. Tolker-Nielsen said: “The Arctic Weather Satellite Development Contract demonstrates ESA’s continued commitment to delivering new state-of-the-art weather satellite systems, while showing which can be achieved with a cost effective New Space approach. .”

The satellite will carry a 19-channel cross-scan microwave radiometer, providing high-resolution soundings of atmospheric humidity and temperature in all weather conditions.

OHB Sweden leads the industrial consortium, which includes Omnisys Sweden as the microwave radiometer prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space as the ground segment prime contractor. The industrial team includes 31 companies, including 14 small and medium-sized enterprises from 12 ESA Member States.

Benoit Mathieu added: “This is the third mission based on our Innosat platform. With this contract, OHB Sweden’s Innosat platform proves its New Space character suitable for a cost-effective and reliable Arctic meteorological satellite constellation and beyond.

Going forward, ESA would develop the envisaged constellation in cooperation with EUMETSAT, under the same agreement that led to the implementation of the Meteosat and MetOp generations of satellites.

Phil Evans, Director General of EUMETSAT, said: “We welcome today’s signing, as EUMETSAT is committed to working with ESA to assess in-orbit data from the Arctic Weather Satellite. In addition to observations from our second generation MetOp satellites, we expect any future Arctic weather satellite system to have a positive impact on weather applications, from regional and global numerical weather prediction to nowcasting in the Arctic region. , where it will bring important and missing observations.

“EUMETSAT and ESA will also work together to assess the technical feasibility and cost of a future operational constellation of these Arctic meteorological satellites which, if our Member States agree, would be operated by EUMETSAT.”

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