September 26, 2006

IASI ready for the lift-off

The big day is fast approaching for IASI! After 3 abortive attempts in July, the launch of the MetOp satellite carrying the IASI instrument is now all set for 7 October. The Soyuz launcher and its payload are undergoing final preparations before lift-off.
26 September 2006

Entering the home straight

The European MetOp meteorology satellite and its IASI1 interferometry instrument are completing final preparations for launch 7 October by a Soyuz-Fregat from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

After 3 abortive attempts on 17, 18 and 19 July, the launch had to be postponed due to a hitch on the launch system. The Soyuz’s tanks were emptied and it was sent back to its production facility in Samara, Russia, for reconditioning. It is now back in Baikonur.

The IASI instrument, under wraps since end July, has successfully completed functional tests and is in perfect health.

The covers protecting its most sensitive elements from impurities and humidity in the integration facility have now been removed and IASI is ready to go.
The MetOp satellite has been mated atop the Fregat upper stage, which will be encapsulated under the fairing in the next few days and then erected on the launcher for roll-out to the launch pad, scheduled on 4 October.

New prospects for weather forecasters

The launch of MetOp will be a big step forward for weather forecasting. Until now, Europe has relied exclusively on geostationary weather satellites like Meteosat. Polar-orbiting satellites like MetOp are set to give weather forecasters significantly more data. Its payload includes IASI, an instrument developed by CNES that will acquire highly accurate vertical profiles of the atmosphere for the 1st time.

Designed by CNES in cooperation with Eumetsat, IASI is an interferometer that will sound the lower 20 kilometres of the atmosphere. For this reason, IASI marks a major scientific advance.
IASI will sound the atmosphere twice daily to acquire profiles of unprecedented accuracy. Such measurements will be very useful for detecting severe weather events.
Two more IASI instruments will be designed to fly on the next 2 MetOp weather forecasting satellites, to be launched in succession over the next 14 years.
1 Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer

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