Europe’s latest weather satellite captures its first image of Earth

8 Aug 2012

MSG-3 first image of Earth, which was taken on 7 August 2012 by its Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI)

SEVIRI, the spinning enhanced visible and infrared imager instrument aboard Europe’s latest geostationary weather satellite MSG-3, has captured its first image of Earth.

The satellite itself was launched on 5 July and is on its way to taking over operational service after six months of commissioning, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). It was responsible for the initial operations after the launch and early orbit phase of MSG-3 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 16 July.

MSG, which stands for Meteosat Second Generation, is a joint programme that has been undertaken by the ESA and EUMETSAT.

MSG-3 is the third in a series of four satellites, with the first one having been launched in 2002. These spin-stabilised satellites carry the SERVI imager, which has been deployed upon the satellite to deliver enhanced weather coverage over Europe and Africa in order to improve very short-range forecasts.

In particular, it is used for detecting rapidly developing thunderstorms or fog. SEVIRI scans Earth’s surface and atmosphere every 15 minutes in 12 different wavelengths, to track cloud development.

According to the ESA, SEVIRI can pick out features as small as a kilometre across in the visible bands, and three kilometres in the infrared

As well as this MSG-3 also carries a Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget sensor. This measures both the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space and the infrared energy radiated by the Earth system, to better understand climate processes.

The MSG satellites were built in Cannes, France, by a European industrial team led by Thales Alenia Space, France. More than 50 subcontractors from 13 European countries are involved in the building of these satellites.

The last of the series, MSG-4, is planned for launch in 2015.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic