Science Minister Lord Sainsbury today welcomed the successful launch of the first in a new generation of European weather satellites that will dramatically improve forecasting and help scientists study the Earth’s climate.

The Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) programme began on 28 August at 1945h local time (2245h GMT), with the successful launch of the £305 million MSG-1 satellite from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. Controlled from the European Space Agency’s operations centre at Darmstadt, Germany, MSG-1 will now make a series of manoeuvres using its onboard propulsion system, which will take it to its definitive geostationary orbit in a few weeks time. The satellite will send sharper images more frequently, improving predictions of severe weather, such as storms and dense fog.

Dr Colin Hicks, Director General of BNSC and Mike Sandford, Head of Space Instrumentation Division at RAL celebrate the successful launch of MSG-1

One of the key instruments on board the satellite is the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB). This series of instruments will contribute to climate change studies by measuring the amount of radiation arriving on Earth from the Sun and the amount leaving as heat, and scattered and reflected solar radiation. The first GERB instrument was built by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) who are also developing the major part of the GERB ground segment. RAL will be involved in over 12 years of operations and data processing, for this and two subsequent GERB instruments.