Metop A & B


An artist's rendering of 2 second generation Metop satellites in a polar orbit above Europe and Greenland.

Metop 2nd generation satellites (Image credit: ESA)

In late 1998, NOAA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) signed an Initial Joint Polar Satellite System (IJPS) Agreement calling for each to operate and control their polar orbiting environmental satellites and ground segments, share instruments and the data collected collected by their spacecraft. Under this Agreement, NOAA operates NOAA N and NPrime (later known as NOAA 18 and NOAA 19), and EUMETSAT operates Metop A and B.

MetOp-B instrument suspended on a dolly for final assembly.
MetOp-B during final assembly. (Image credit: ESA)

Metop A was launched in October 2006 and served as EUMETSAT's primary operational satellite for more than six years until Metop B became primary in 2013. Today Metop A remains a backup satellite to Metop B. Metop A carries a suite of advanced sounding and imaging instruments that enable meteorologists, oceanographers and climatologists to improve their forecasting and warning services. NOAA's instrument contribution to Metop A include two microwave sounding instruments (AMSU A1 and A2), an infrared/visible radiometer (AVHRR), an infrared temperature sounder (HIRS) and the Space Environment Moniitor (SEM). Through cooperation with the French Space Agency (CNES) and Canadian Department of Defense, NOAA also provided a Search and Rescue Receiver (SARR) and Processor (SARP). Metop A also includes the following suite of European instruments: an infrared interferometer (IASI), a GPS Receiver to collect radio occultation soundings, a scatterometer that measures sea surface wind vectors, and a microwave radiometer that observes vertical profiles of atmospheric humidity.

Metop B was launched in September 2012 and contains the same payload as Metop A. Metop B is the current operational Metop satellite and will be declared the primary backup satellite once Metop C is operational.

Satellite image showing Hurricane Sandy off the East Coast of the US captured by MetOp-A, October 29, 2018

Hurricane Sandy off the East Coast of the US, as captured by MetOp-A, October 29, 2012

For more information about the Metop satellite program, please visit: the Metop website.