Meteosat Third Generation agreement signed at Ministerial meeting

(Nanowerk News) 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 a system requirement 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.