RAL Space has delivered the optical ground support equipment for the Meteosat Third Generation Imager (MTG-I) satellite to TAS France.

RAL Space are producing 5 black bodies for the MTG satellites which will be launched from 2022 and provide the next generation of weather observations.

The first two have now been delivered to TAS France for use for the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) instrument on board MTG-I.

The team developed a new method of temperature control for the system, which needs to be held at a very stable temperature over a wider temperature range. Using a helium gas control system, the black body can be held within 0.01֯C at any temperature between -180֯C and +100֯C for an hour.

Dr Sarah Beardsley, Head of Space Engineering and Technology at RAL Space said:

“The team negotiated demanding technical requirements and brought the project to fruition at a particularly challenging time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud that we have delivered a novel solution which will help to make sure that our weather forecasts are based on accurate measurements of our atmosphere for years to come.”

This offers the stability needed to ensures that the ground based calibration system can accurately and reliably provide a stable reference point for calibration.

The FCI instrument will measure the temperature of clouds, land and sea surfaces as well as characteristics of the atmosphere used in numerical weather forecasting and for the short term “nowcasting” weather prediction community.

The second set of black body calibration systems will be delivered by RAL Space to OHB for the MTG Sounder satellite later in 2021.