New prospects for weather forecasters
At an altitude of 36,000 km, the geostationary arc is the highest orbit used today for Earth observation.
The advantage of a satellite in this orbit is that its field of view covers the entire planet, keeping constant watch over the surface directly beneath it.
But it also has a drawback: at that altitude, it obviously can’t see as much detail as a satellite closer to Earth.
Polar-orbiting satellites like MetOp, operating at an altitude of just 840 km, are therefore set to give weather forecasters significantly more data.
MetOp-A, the 1st in a series of 3 satellites, will be orbited this summer by a Soyuz launcher from Baikonur.
Longer-range forecasts are expected to be of excellent quality and shorter-range forecasts will also improve as a result.
Vertical atmospheric profiles
1 IASI: Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer
- CNES Programmes: IASI