Europe’s newest weather satellite, Meteosat-12, captures its first images

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The inaugural picture from Meteosat-12, the latest weather satellite launched by Europe, has been released to the public.

The spacecraft has been 36,000 kilometers above the equator since its launch in December, and it is currently in a testing period that is expected to run for most of this year.

It is anticipated that, if its data is made available to meteorological authorities, it will change weather forecasting accuracy, particularly with reference to “nowcasting.

” This entails the capacity to more accurately forecast the likelihood of dangerous weather events occurring in a certain area, such as strong winds, lightning, hail, or heavy rain.

Forecasters should be able to identify areas at risk for extreme weather using Meteosat-12. Image source: PA IMAGES

The development of weather forecasting will benefit greatly from Meteosat-12’s improved resolution.

The new spacecraft can track structures as small as 500m in diameter, in contrast to older satellites, which could only detect storm features that were at least 1 km in diameter.

The higher resolution, according to Jochen Grandell of Eumetsat, the international organization in charge of overseeing Europe’s weather satellites, enables the detection of small structures like “overshooting tops” in thunderstorm clouds.

Strong updrafts and downdrafts that change quickly and frequently characterize these structures, which were previously hard to spot due to their small size.

Since 1977, Europe has been running its own meteorological satellites; Meteosat-12 is the most recent in this series.

Because of the satellite’s “stationary” position, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are always covered.

Every 10 minutes, or five minutes quicker than the previous satellite models, it may take a complete snapshot of the planet’s weather patterns.

Additionally, 16 wavelengths of light, four more than Meteosat-12’s predecessors, can be used to observe the planet with this satellite.

The additional light bands make it possible to create true-color images that nearly approximate what the human eye would see from the same vantage point.

Coworker at Eumetsat Alessandro Burini described the feelings that came with receiving the first data from Meteosat-12.

He said they were ecstatic with the sensor’s remarkable quality and the photographs it produced.

The satellite’s photos clearly showed that its optical resolution, radiometry, and navigation accuracy were all of a very high caliber.

The nearly four-ton spacecraft is located 36,000 kilometers above the equator. Image source: EUMETSAT

The third-generation Meteosat system will eventually consist of three satellites operating together.

With a debut date of 2026, the second imager will be able to take pictures of Europe every 2.5 minutes.

A sounding spacecraft will be launched in 2024 to track the temperature and humidity in the atmosphere.

Since replacement satellites have already been ordered, Europe will continue to be covered through the year 2040.

The project is anticipated to cost a total of about €4.3 billion (£3.7 billion).

Although the Meteosat project is expensive, the benefits that accurate weather forecasting brings to society cannot be measured.

It has been calculated that saving lives, avoiding damage to infrastructure, and avoiding economic disruption saves Europe tens of billions of euros annually.

Simon King, a meteorologist and broadcaster for BBC Weather, expressed his enthusiasm for the new imagery and likened it to the switch from standard definition to 4K.

The good visibility of the cloud structure and atmospheric dust, which are essential for storm development, is a notable improvement in resolution.

Nataa Strelec Mahovi, a meteorologist at Eumetsat, claims that the Meteosat-12’s improved resolution will make it feasible to identify fog even in small valleys, which was previously impossible.

She also emphasized the value of monitoring wildfires because satellites are able to spot smaller fires and show variations in fire intensity due to their different wavelength bands.

People are also given training by Strelec Mahovi on how to use space data.

All through the year, Meteosat-12 and its ground systems will be put through testing.

By the beginning of 2024, it is anticipated that the national forecasting organizations, such as the UK Met Office, Meteo France, and DWD, would routinely begin feeding data from the satellite onto their supercomputers.

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