EUMETSAT programmes will ensure EU remains leader in satellite meteorology

Written by Alain Ratier on 26 January 2017 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

EUMETSAT's atmosphere, ocean and climate monitoring is at Europe's service, explains Alain Ratier.

Alain Ratier | Photo credit: EUMETSAT

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) delivers operational Earth observations and around the clock support services for the benefit of European citizens and its economy. 

Situated upstream in the meteorological value-adding chain that contributes €61bn a year in the European Union alone, EUMETSAT also contributes a unique climate data record of satellite observations reaching back more than 30 years.

Currently, EUMETSAT exploits ten satellites - in four different orbits – delivering observations of weather, atmospheric composition, ocean, land and climate.


In addition to its own geostationary (Meteosat) and polar-orbiting (Metop) satellites, EUMETSAT exploits the European/US Jason High Precision Ocean Altimetry missions and the Sentinels -3A mission of behalf of Copernicus to deliver a real-time data stream integrating observations from EUMETSAT satellites and those of Copernicus, thereby offering unique new opportunities to European users.

EUMETSAT member states have committed more than €7bn in recent years to secure the continuation of the observations from the Meteosat and Metop satellites, through the approval of the Meteosat Third Generation and EPS Second Generation programmes.

With these new generations of satellites, planned to be launched in the 2020+ timeframe, the agency is committed to delivering another 30 years of operational services for EUMETSAT's member states.

These programmes will ensure that Europe remains a world-leader in satellite meteorology, capitalising on the excellent cooperation which exists between EUMETSAT, the European Space Agency and European industry. EUMETSAT will exploit the Copernicus Sentinel-4 and -5 missions as part of these new generation systems.

In its recent Challenge 2025 strategy EUMETSAT underlined its first priority of delivering these new programmes in time and on budget, with the objective of improving its services to user communities.

In doing so, EUMETSAT will also strive to exploit its current systems as long as possible by extending their operational lifetime and by maximising the information drawn from the data. A smooth transition from the current to future generations of satellites is key to meeting user expectations.

In the European context, EUMETSAT's focus is on Copernicus and the aim is to remain the operational agency of reference for operating current and future Copernicus sentinel missions observing the oceans and atmosphere, while contributing to climate change monitoring.

Another strategic priority underlined in Challenge 2025 is for EUMETSAT to remain a globally trusted partner in its cooperation with the US, China, India, Japan, Russia and others.

The priorities of Challenge 2025 are consistent with the European Commission's recently published space strategy for Europe in October 2016. 

This strategy identifies the Meteosat programme as a world class European success story, and calls for EUMETSAT's continued contributions to the implementation of Copernicus and to the international space dialogues with third parties led by the Commission.


About the author

Alain Ratier is Director-General at EUMETSAT, Europe's Meteorological Satellite Agency based in Darmstadt, Germany

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