Airbus Defence and Space has been commissioned by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to develop and build three flight units of the innovative METimage weather instruments. The partners have signed the € 291 million contract in Berlin.
METimage is a multispectral imaging radiometer for meteorological applications. The instrument generates information about clouds, aerosols, the Earth’s surface and their respective temperatures in 20 channels, from visible to infrared wavelengths (443 nanometres to 13.3 micrometres), with a higher accuracy than current instruments.
By constantly scanning, it can see from horizon to horizon and covers the entire Earth within one day – with a spatial resolution of 500 metres. METimage thus makes an important contribution to weather and climate forecasts.
Within 1.7 seconds, a 12 kilometre wide and 2,670 kilometres long area of the Earth’s surface is observed using a scan mirror oriented perpendicular to the flight direction. Three sensors, two of which are infrared sensors operating at cryogenic temperatures of below -210°C, deliver the 20 channels of data. With 26 different components, METimage is one of the most complex instruments Airbus Defence and Space is working on.
Michael Menking, Senior Vice President Earth Observation, Navigation & Science at Airbus Defence and Space said: “Our skills and experience will enable Airbus Defence and Space to deliver these ground-breaking, impressive instruments. Through METimage we are expanding our contribution to the Metop-Second Generation programme, providing data which is vital for European meteorology and Earth observation.”
The METimage instruments produced in Friedrichshafen will be used on the ‘A’ satellites of the new Metop-SG (Second Generation) polar-orbiting weather satellites from ESA/Eumetsat from 2021. The ‘A’ satellites with optical instruments are being developed and built at Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse and the ‘B’ satellites with microwave instruments are produced at Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen.
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