Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo, is currently carrying out the final integration phase of the first Meteosat Third Generation satellite (MTG-I1).
MTG-I1 will soon depart for the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, where its launch is scheduled for the end of 2022 on board an Ariane 5 rocket.
MTG-I1 is the first imaging satellite in the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) program, which aims to improve weather forecasting in Europe and Africa. Designed as a follow-on to the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) series, the MTG program is a collaborative venture between the European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT to ensure the continuity of high-resolution weather monitoring beyond 2040. Built by Thales Alenia Space in cooperation with German spaceflight company OHB, the MTG satellites will operate in geostationary orbit 36,000km above the Earth and will have a life span of 8.5 years.
The MTG program comprises six satellites: four imaging satellites (MTG-I) and two atmospheric sounding satellites (MTG-S) capable of providing 3D maps of the atmosphere.
The MTG-I1 satellite is equipped with a flexible combined imager (FCI) that can provide a full image of the Earth every 10 minutes (versus 15 minutes for the previous generation) and includes a fast mode capable of providing images of Europe every 2.5 minutes. With a spatial resolution of 0.5-1km, the satellite will improve the reliability of weather forecasts over a timescale of minutes to hours.
The MTG-I1 is also equipped with an extremely sophisticated lightning imager (LI), the first of its kind in Europe. Developed by Leonardo, the LI, made of four cameras, will be able to detect cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground flashes in all potential scenarios (for example during both night and day).
This first satellite in the MTG series will become operational in orbit during 2023 and will be joined by three other imaging satellites and two sounding satellites between 2024 and 2030. Together, they will form a geostationary constellation operated by EUMETSAT that will represent a big step forward in terms of the monitoring of extreme weather.
Pierre Armand, MTG program director for Thales Alenia Space, said, “The MTG constellation will revolutionize weather forecasting and deepen our understanding of the climatic changes taking place today. By integrating spectral and lightning imagery data, the MTG program will enable earlier prediction of severe storms and other significant weather events, which pose a growing threat to communities.”