18 September 2012
Meteorological satellite carries IASI atmospheric sounding instrument by Thales Alenia Space
Cannes, France, September 17, 2012 - The second polar-orbit meteorological satellite, MetOp-B, was successfully launched today by a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. MetOp-B is scheduled to take over operational service from MetOp-A, launched in October 2006.
MetOp is a family of Sun-synchronous polar-orbiting satellites built by Astrium as prime contractor, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), for EUMETSAT, the European Meteorological Satellite organisation. The MetOp series comprises three satellites, all carrying the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI), which has become the benchmark instrument for long-term weather forecasts for Météo France and its counterpart weather agencies in Europe. Developed by Thales Alenia Space for French space agency CNES, the IASI is a very-high-spectral-resolution instrument that has revolutionized operational meteorology through its ability to precisely measure temperature and humidity profiles in atmospheric columns, using advanced interferometry techniques.
The measurements made by the IASI instrument, proven on MetOp-A, also help improve climate monitoring (temperatures and greenhouse gases), while improving our understanding of air quality and atmospheric chemistry through 3D studies of constituent components.
For example, IASI provides measurements in a continuous infrared band from 3.61 to 15.5 microns, enabling the fine analysis of the atmosphere's absorption spectrum. Operating in Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 800 km, IASI scans the Earth's atmosphere along an axis perpendicular to its trajectory, in 2,200 kilometer-wide swaths. It collects 30 views of the Earth and measures the infrared radiation spectrum emitted by the Earth twice a day. Furthermore, the IASI has an integrated imaging radiometer, providing 64x64 pixel images, with a resolution of approximately 1 km for infrared scenes, used to integrate the influence of clouds in processing sampling data.
Thales Alenia Space is already studying a second generation of IASI instruments that would be used on second generation MetOp-SG satellites, successors to the first generation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
"The production of IASI instruments consolidates our position as the European leader in both meteorology and high-resolution optics," said Patrick Mauté, Thales Alenia Space Vice President for Optical Observation and Science. "In addition to building the IASI, Thales Alenia Space also designed, developed and delivered to EUMETSAT the ground segment for the EUMETSAT Polar System, or EPS. Its exemplary operational performance, combined with that of the IASI instrument, largely contributed to the success of this major European program."
About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecommunications, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. With consolidated revenues of 2.1 billion euros in 2011, Thales Alenia Space has 7,500 employees in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium and United States.
Thales Alenia Space Press Contacts:
Sandrine Bielecki - Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 9
Tarik Lahlou - Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 68 45