Entering the home straight
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.
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.
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.