European weather satellite launches


  • Sarah Zielinski


The first of three planned, European, polar-orbiting meteorological satellites, MetOp-A (Meteorological Operational satellite), successfully launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 19 October.The satellite—which was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Meteorological Satellite Organisation—will travel in a sun-synchronous, morning orbit, circling the Earth from pole to pole 14 times a day while always crossing the equator at 9:30 A.M. local time. MetOp-A carries 12 instruments for collecting various types of data, such as: atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles; concentrations of ozone and other trace gases; wind speed and direction; and imagery of cloud cover and ocean and land surfaces.