Today, ESA and Eumetsat signed a Cooperation Agreement that secures the continued development of the MetOp Second Generation satellites, which will start providing meteorological observations from polar orbit in mid-2021.

MetOp-SG is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

This latest landmark in the long-standing cooperation was signed by Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, and Alain Ratier, EUMETSAT’s Director General.

ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner, who opened the event, said: “This agreement shows the trust and confidence that the Member States have in the way ESA and EUMETSAT cooperate to make Europe a leader in satellite meteorology.

“The MetOp-SG satellites will maintain Europe’s leading edge in the development of meteorological systems, instruments, technologies and applications, and in the provision of weather forecasting and monitoring services.”

The MetOp-SG satellites, which form the space segment of EUMETSAT’s Second Generation Polar System, will deliver critical, operational, meteorological observations from polar orbit from 2021 to the mid-2040s.

Volker Liebig said: “MetOp-SG is a very challenging programme with two series of satellites and many complex instruments many of them delivered from third parties. However, thanks to our experience with the first generation of Metop and our long-standing partnership with EUMETSAT and industry, we are looking forward to the realisation of this next generation meteorological mission.”

This new generation of satellites will provide enhanced continuity of the current MetOp series, today’s main source of global data for Numerical Weather Prediction, and will also introduce several new measurements.

Alain Ratier said: “With the EUMETSAT Polar System of Second Generation, our ambition is to further increase the accuracy of forecasts of the weather and the environment in the next decades.

“For this, we need very innovative Metop-SG satellites, not only to improve all observations already available from the current Metop satellites, but also to provide new observations, and we count on ESA to develop these satellites.”

Comprising six satellites in total, MetOp-SG will operate as a dual system, with an atmospheric sounding and optical imaging mission on the MetOp-SG-A series and a microwave imaging mission on MetOp?SG?B.

The new system will deliver significant improvements for weather forecasting, atmospheric chemistry, operational oceanography, hydrology and climate monitoring.

The first A satellite is planned to be launched in mid?2021, followed by the first B satellite 18 months later. Each series will consist of three satellites to provide 21 years of operations.

Through the agreement, ESA is responsible for the funding and development of the first satellites of the A and B series fulfilling user and system requirements defined by EUMETSAT and for the procurement of the recurrent satellites on its behalf. EUMETSAT procures all launch services and develops the ground systems required to control the satellites, acquire and process their data and deliver products and services to users in response to their evolving needs. It also integrates and tests the full system that it will operate over two decades for the benefit of users.
With the agreement now in place the next phase of the mission, which entails the detailed design and manufacture of the satellites and associated instruments, will formally start in November upon completion of the Preliminary Design Review.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 21 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 19 are Member States of the EU.

One other Member State of the EU, Hungary, has signed the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention and, upon ratification, will soon become the 22nd ESA Member State.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU.

Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

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