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Metop-C in orbit

Meteorological satellite carries GOME-2 and IASI-3,  atmospheric imaging and sounding instruments by Leonardo and Thales Alenia Space


Rome, Cannes November 7, 2018 – The third polar-orbit meteorological satellite, Metop-C, was successfully launched today by a Soyuz rocket from the European Space Port in French Guyana. Metop-C joins the other satellites in this family, Metop-A, launched in October 2006 and Metop-B launched in September 2012.

Metop is a family of Sun-synchronous polar-orbit satellites built by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), for Eumetsat, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Metop-C brings in orbit a suite of sophisticated instrumentation, including GOME-2, provided by Leonardo, and IASI, provided by Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), two state-of-the-art European instruments playing a fundamental role in protecting our Planet.

Leonardo designed, developed and tested in its facility at Campi Bisenzio (near Florence) the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) instrument on board all Metop satellites, which data are used by scientists to measure ozone in the atmosphere, crucial for protecting humans and other species from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Since 2006, when the Metop-A satellite was launched, data from GOME-2 are also used for the long-term monitoring of  the so-called ozone hole over Antarctica. The instrument onboard Metop-C will now operate in parallel with its “brother” on Metop-B, so assuring that continuity in the long time series of measurements will be maintained.

In more details, GOME-2 is an imaging spectrometer. Since different gases in the atmosphere absorb light at different wavelengths, the instrument receives the reflected light from the Earth's atmosphere splitting it into different colors (wavelengths) to reveal which gases are present in the observed sample. GOME-2 will map concentrations of atmospheric ozone as well as other gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other molecules present in traces in the atmosphere.

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 and Metop-B, 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.


Artistic view: © EUMETSAT


About Leonardo
Leonardo is among the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organised into seven business divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Leonardo operates in the most competitive international markets by leveraging its areas of technology and product leadership. Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2017 Leonardo recorded consolidated restated revenues of 11.7 billion Euros and has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the UK, the U.S. and Poland.

Having supplied the first instruments and services in the 60s, Leonardo plays a leading role in the international Space market. Leonardo operates in the Space sector covering the industry's entire value chain through the activities of the Airborne and Space Systems division and through two joint ventures created with Thales, which form the “Space Alliance”: Telespazio (Leonardo 67% and Thales 33%) and Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%). Leonardo is also the industrial shareholder of Avio, leader in Space transportation technology. The excellent skills match assures Leonardo is able to assure an end-to-end offering for all users' requirements: from space systems manufacturing, up to the production of a wide range of high-tech instruments, subsystems, sensors and the management of launch and in-orbit services and satellite services.


Leonardo – Press Contacts:

Press Office    Tel: +39 06 32473313


About Thales Alenia Space
Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.

Thales Alenia Space – Press Contacts:

Sandrine Bielecki    
Tel: +33 (0)492 927 094

Chrystelle Dugimont
Tel: +33 (0)492 927 406

Cinzia Marcanio    
Tel: +39 (0)641 512 685