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Atmosphere. Europe launches its new era of climate satellites

Twelve years of preparation and several other billion euros to scrounge up just a few treasured hours in predicting extreme climate phenomena: Europe is making ready to launch the primary of its new era climate satellites.

Wrapped in a black insulating movie enamelled with mirrored surfaces to replicate the warmth of the solar, the three.8-ton beast sits within the Thales Alenia House clear room in Cannes earlier than taking the boat to Kourou, from the place it have to be. launched by the top of the 12 months.

As soon as in orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers, MTG-I1, for Meteosat third generation-imager, will scan the planet each ten minutes with an accuracy of as much as 500 meters, half as a lot because the earlier era launched from the early 2000s.

It must be adopted by 2025 by a twin (MTG-I2), which can deal with Europe on the price of a scan each two and a half minutes, and a satellite tv for pc outfitted with a probe ( MTG-S) which can analyze the composition of the environment over its whole peak.

Three different comparable satellites, already below building, ought to succeed them on the finish of their lifespan, of not less than eight and a half years.

Alert populations just a few hours earlier

In whole, this program launched in 2010 represents a price range of 4.3 billion euros, shared between ESA and Eumetsat, the group accountable for working these satellites for 20 years. An enormous funding justified by the truth that no climate report is feasible as we speak with out these house sentinels.

“Greater than 95% of the 40 million observations made every day for climate forecasts come from satellites,” remembers Simonetta Cheli, director of Earth remark packages on the European House Company (ESA).

And “with the exponential development of maximum climate occasions”, she remembers, the photographs have to be increasingly exact and frequent. The problem: to detect the fast evolution of convective phenomena, the actions of the environment that trigger thunderstorms and storms.

The thunderstorms accompanied by gusts of greater than 200 km/h which hit Corsica on August 18, killing 5 folks, come from a fast accumulation of water vapor within the environment on a really localized floor, and “this sort native change could be detected in a short time by MTG,” explains Donny Aminou, Satellite tv for pc Payload Supervisor for ESA.

“We have now plenty of expectations on monitoring the event of convective clouds, we hope to realize just a few hours of discover”, essential for alerting populations, abounds Hervé Roquet, deputy director of analysis at Météo France.

lightning detector

The satellite tv for pc carries one other precious instrument within the eyes of meteorologists: a lightning detector, a primary in Europe. Outfitted with 4 cameras, it could “distinguish the equal of the blink of an eye fixed ten kilometers away” day and night time, in keeping with Carlo Simoncelli, program supervisor at Italian Leonardo.

Among the lightning is at present detected by terrestrial techniques, however those who streak the clouds with out touching the bottom are way more quite a few and weren’t. Nonetheless, these could be precursors to devastating storms, in keeping with Hervé Roquet, who additionally underlines a breakthrough for air security.

MTG’s sensors will even higher detect forest fires and particles within the environment. The closure of air visitors reminiscent of that which occurred over a big area because of the ash scattered by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 may thus be prevented any further, in keeping with its designers.

“Now, the meteorologists solely should digest the info,” laughs Pierre Armand, program supervisor for Thales Alenia House, the commercial prime contractor.

The amount of knowledge despatched to Earth guarantees to be colossal: 110 megabits per second (Mbps) day by day, 50 occasions greater than the earlier era. They will even be used to develop new climate forecasting and local weather change fashions.

On the identical time, Europe is making ready the subsequent era of Metop satellites. These two climate satellites in low orbit, at just a few hundred kilometers altitude, are complementary to geostationary satellites reminiscent of MTG. Used for ten-day forecasts, Metops take larger high quality photographs of all the floor of the Earth however solely move over the identical space every day.

In 2025, the entire panoply of European meteorological satellites may have been renewed.

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