[Meteosat]Meteosat is a geostationary weather satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and now operated by the company Eumetsat. The most recent version of Meteosat was launched in June 1988. It provides weather imaging of the Earth at both visible light and infrared wavelengths. Meteosat is in orbit 35,800 km above the intersection of the equator and the Greenwich Meridian. At half-hourly intervals, it sends digitally encoded, high resolution (very detailed), infrared and visible light images to its operational base station in Germany. Here the raw images are processed and prepared to be sent out across the world.

Meteosat is a cylinder-shaped satellite measuring 210 cm in diameter and 430 cm in length. The satellite's two main parts are an equipment platform and a central tube. It has a radiometer telescope, mounted on the equipment platform, that views the Earth through a special aperture in the side of the spacecraft. The satellite gets its power from solar panels that form the outer walls of the spacecraft and provide the primary source of electrical power. Located in a space between the central tube and the solar panels are pieces of equipment that control the satellite's functioning and some batteries for extra power. The satellite is spin-stabilized.

The satellite carries a variety of equipment including a weather data collection system used to get images to user stations, to collect data from various Earth-based platforms, and to relay data from polar-orbiting satellites. It also carries a visible-infrared radiometer to provide high-quality, day/night cloud-cover data and to take readings of the heat given off by the Earth and the atmosphere.

To learn more about Meteosat's radiometer, click here.

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Last updated on: 8 August 1997.