Meteosat-7, the last first-generation Meteosat geostationary spacecraft, has been decommissioned after almost 20 years of service. The final command was sent at 09:00 UTC on 11 April, ending the service record not only of one spacecraft, but of the whole Meteosat first-generation mission begun by the European Space Agency in 1977. Launched on 2 September 1997, Meteosat-7 was designed to fill the gap between the Meteosat Operational Programme (encompassing Meteosat-4 to -6) and the first satellite of the second generation, Meteosat-8 (launched on 28 August 2002). For the past decade, it has delivered observations of the Indian Ocean from geostationary orbit. After the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Meteosat-7 became an essential part of the tsunami warning system, acting as a relay spacecraft for tsunami warning buoys. EUMETSAT director-general Alain Ratier said, This last manoeuvre puts a safe end to a foundational programme. Not only did the successful Meteosat first-generation mission give birth to EUMETSAT in 1986 and make it a true satellite operator in 1995, but it shaped satellite meteorology in Europe, testing concepts such as rapid scanning of thunderstorms and extraction of wind vector products from the tracking of water vapour patterns across successive images.
By Helen Norman1 Min Read
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