Metop C


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

Metop 2nd generation satellites (Image credit: Eumetsat)

The Metop-C satellite launched on November 7, 2018 and is the third and final satellite in its series. It was preceded by Metop-A and Metop-B, which launched in 2006 and 2012 respectively. The Metop satellites are polar orbiting meteorological missions that provide detailed observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land. These satellites are part of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS), Europe’s contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) in coordination with NOAA for monitoring weather and climate from the mid-morning and mid-afternoon polar orbits.

NOAA provides ground station support for the Metop satellites by collecting Metop satellite data broadcast to a ground station in Antarctica and relaying the data to EUMETSAT in Germany. NOAA also delivers four instruments for flight on Metop-C, including:

CAD rendering of Metop-C satellite showing the relative positions of its instruments including: GRAS, IASI, HIRS/4, AVHRR/3, MHS, AMSU-A, A-DCS, S&R, ASCAT, GOME-2 and SEM.
Metop-C satellite with all of its instruments. (Image credit: Eumetsat)

  • Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer/3 (AVHRR)
  • A visible/infrared imaging radiometer that provides global imagery twice a day for global measurement of cloud cover, sea surface temperature, ice, snow, volcanic ash plumes and vegetation cover.

  • Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit - A1 and A2 (AMSU-A)
  • Microwave sounders for temperature sounding under clear and overcast conditions that measure global atmospheric temperature profiles and provide information on atmospheric water in all forms.

  • Space Environmental Monitor (SEM)
  • The instrument suite that provides in situ observations of energized protons and electrons around the satellite to detect solar activity and space weather. SEM observations are used by NOAA to assist satellite operators to determine possible cause of spacecraft anomalies from single event upsets.

Metop-C in the payload processing facility in French Guiana
MetOp-C during final assembly.

The data generated by the instruments on Metop are used in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models to compute forecasts and reduce errors. The four instruments, which are also on board the two other Metop satellites, provide terrestrial and space weather information to improve understanding of the environment.

The data from the instruments on Metop-C complement the observations collected by NOAA’s afternoon orbit satellites, called the Joint Polar Satellite System or JPSS. Delay or loss of access to the data from Metop in the mid-morning orbit would directly impact the quality of NWP model forecasts by the United States. Forecasters rely on data collected from the two complementary orbits to produce detailed and accurate 3-7 day weather forecasts and warnings.

Together, the Metop and JPSS satellite missions yield timely and critical environmental coverage of the globe and enable NOAA and EUMETSAT to become better stewards of the environment.

What’s next for this project? EPS-SG, the second generation of EUMETSAT’s polar orbiting satellites, beginning in 2022. Learn more about EPS-SG here.

MetOp-C instruments in a deep well in a scientific lab, with scientists wearing lab coats, gloves and hair nets.

The MetOp-C payload module about to undergo vacuum testing at
ESA's test center on February 22, 2017. (Image credit: ESA)

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