Europe's newest Earth Observation Satellite was launched into orbit today (6 November) to improve weather forecasts and monitor the changing climate around the world.
MetOp-C, the third and final satellite of the European Meteorological Operational Satellite Program (MetOp), was launched at 7:47 am from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. EST (0047 GMT on 7 November) on a European Soyuz rocket provided by private launch company Arianespace.
"It was a great start, and everything went like clockwork," said one Arianespace commentator during a live broadcast today. [Launch Photos! Europe’s MetOp-C Soars Into Orbit on Soyuz Rocket]
This was the third successful launch of a Soyuz rocket since an International Space Station crew failed on a Russian version of the Soyuz rocket on October 1
1. In this failed launch, there was a booster disconnect problem that caused an automatic crash during the flight and separated the Soyuz capsule from the rocket. The capsule fell safely back to earth. The crew, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were unharmed.
About an hour after launch, the Fregat upper stage of the rocket MetOp ein -C into an almost polar, sun-synchronous orbit, which is almost 800 kilometers above the earth. In this type of orbit, the satellite is constantly exposed to sunlight as it moves between the north and south poles of the earth. [In Photos: Europe’s MetOp-C Weather Satellite Launches on Soyuz Rocket]
Its path will hold it on the daylight side of the earth's terminator or the line between day and night, so that "the satellite orbit along the earth is always at the same local time, in this case in the middle. Representatives of the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a description of the mission. All three MetOp satellites were built by ESA and operated by the European Organization for the Use of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
The MetOp-C orbit complements the orbits of other weather satellites operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Like MetOp-A and MetOp-B, MetOp-C will work with NOAA's weather satellites fleet as part of an international partnership between NOAA and EUMETSAT.
"To ensure improved coverage and higher midfrequency repeatability, Metop satellites will be deployed in early morning orbit while NOAA's JPSS satellites fly in the" afternoon "additional orbit "said the representatives of Arianespace in a statement.