MTG-I1: Europe’s Newest Weather Satellite Discloses Its Initial Images

Category Science

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The first images released by Europe’s newest weather satellite, MTG-I1, have shown clouds across Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic with an extraordinary level of detail. The images from the Meteosat Third Generation satellite system are set to revolutionize storm prediction, extend climate records and enhance weather forecasts. MTG-I1 is currently undergoing a 12-month commissioning period before the data it produces can be thoroughly assessed.

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The first images from Europe’s newest weather satellite, called MTG-I1, have been released. Launched to showcase weather conditions over Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic, the satellite has sent back images with an extraordinary level of detail.

The images were jointly released by Europe’s meteorological satellite agency called the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Meteosat Third Generation satellite system has been called a “game-changing” system by EUMETSAT.

MTG-I1 was launched in December last year from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, and is part of a series of satellite launches in the Meteosat Third Generation satellite system. The subsequent satellites to be launched in the series are MTG-S1 and MTG-I2.

The images captured by the satellite’s imager show clouds over Northern and Western Europe and Scandinavia regions, with clearer skies above Italy and Western Balkans. The Meteosat second-generation satellites have not been able to capture images with such clarity ever. The images not only reveal great details of the cloud structure above high altitudes but will also enable weather forecasts to track severe weather events and conditions more accurately.

Data from MTG-I1 is expected to be available for public use by February 2024.

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Simonetta Cheli, said in a press release, "This image is a great example of what European cooperation in space can achieve. The level of detail MTG-I1’s image reveals, unachievable over Europe and Africa from a geostationary orbit until now, will give us a greater understanding of our planet and the weather systems that shape it." .

These satellites promise Earth observations of unprecedented range, resolution, and frequency and are set to revolutionize storm prediction, extend climate records and enhance weather forecasts. Orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers, MTG-I1 will be in orbit for about 20 years of operational services, scanning Europe and Africa every 10 minutes, 5 minutes faster than its predecessors.

MTG-I1 carries seven instruments including a lightning imager, data collection, GEOSAR, and a flexibly combined imager, among others.

"This remarkable image gives us great confidence in our expectation that the MTG system will herald a new era in the forecasting of severe weather events," EUMETSAT Director-General Phil Evans said in a press release.

"It might sound odd to be so excited about a cloudy day in most of Europe. But the level of detail seen for the clouds in this image is extraordinarily important to weather forecasters. That additional detail from the higher resolution imagery, coupled with the fact that images will be produced more frequently, means forecasters will be able to more accurately and rapidly detect and predict severe weather events." .

MTG satellites have been termed as eco-friendly compared to older weather satellites since they have been designed to de-orbit themselves automatically.

The instruments in MTG-I1 include a lightning imager, data collection, GEOSAR, and a flexibly combined imager. The satellite is currently under a 12-month commissioning phase and will remain so for most of this year. This includes its instruments being switched on and the data it produces to be thoroughly assessed.

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