Metop-C is the third and final satellite in the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS). It is also the 13th EUMETSAT satellite to be launched by Arianespace, following the most recent mission with MSG-4 in July 2015.
The polar-orbiting Metop satellites are essential for numerical weather prediction from 12 hours to 10 days in advance. The still-operational Metop-A and –B satellites, launched from Baikonur in 2006 and 2012, by Starsem make the single biggest contribution to the reduction in errors in weather forecasts one day in advance. Metop-C is therefore expected to enhance this.
Metop-C will be injected into a sun-synchronous “mid-morning” polar orbit which enables global observation of weather, atmospheric composition, oceans and land surfaces. Metop-C will have a five-year nominal life in orbit and will carry a payload of nine state-of-the-art instruments.
The EUMETSAT Polar System is Europe’s contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States. To provide enhanced coverage and a higher revisit frequency at mid latitudes, the Metop satellites fly in the “mid-morning” orbit, while NOAA’s JPSS satellites fly in the complementary “afternoon” orbit.
Moreover, the Metop-C spacecraft is essential to ensure a smooth transition to the upcoming EUMETSAT Polar System – Second Generation. The first EPS-SG satellite is scheduled for launch in 2022. There currently are four additional EUMETSAT meteorological satellites in Arianespace’s order book.
As of today, Arianespace has launched the entire EUMETSAT fleet.
Metop-C will be the 20th meteorological satellite – as well as the 66th Earth observation satellite – launched by Arianespace.