WMO welcomes new generation of meteorological satellites

WMO welcomes new generation of meteorological satellites



16 July 2015

WMO welcomes the advent of a new generation of geostationary meteorological satellites, which will make a major contribution to weather prediction and prevention and mitigated of weather-related disasters.

The Himawari-8 geostationary meteorological satellite managed by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) began operation at 02 UTC on 7 July 2015, replacing the previous MTSAT-2 operational satellite. The true-color composite imagery at 02 UTC captured three typhoons in the Pacific.

Himawari-8 was launched using H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 25 on 7 October 2014 from the Tanegashima Space Center, and JMA subsequently conducted testing and checking of the satellite and related systems. During the commissioning phase, Himawari-8’s capacity for superior earth monitoring with multi-band, high-resolution and high-frequency observation was verified.

The World Meteorological Organization welcomes the operation of Himawari as the start of a new era for geostationary meteorological satellites. WMO shares the belief of JMA that it will contribute to the prevention and mitigation of weather-related disasters in the East Asia and Western Pacific regions as past satellites have done.

The simplest way to see real-time Himawari-8 imagery is to access the website where JMA provides Himawari-8 imagery in JPEG format for various regions in various bands including RGB composite products updated every 10 minute.


Just before midnight on 15 July, MSG-4 was successfully launched from Kourou, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, on an Ariane-5 launcher. MSG-4 is the last of the MSG series of geostationary satellites resulting from the successful cooperation model with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Alain Ratier, EUMETSAT’s Director-General, said, “With MSG-4 en route towards geostationary orbit, we are preparing for a safe and smooth transition to Meteosat Third Generation. After commissioning, MSG-4 will be stored in orbit for 2.5 years, and will then be exploited until two MTG-I satellites become operational in orbit, in 2023.”

The Meteosat services from geostationary orbit cover the European and African continents and parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The Meteosat satellites also provide a unique observational input to Numerical Weather Prediction models, complementing the primary inputs delivered by the polar-orbiting Metop satellites. The satellites have already accumulated climate data records of more than 35 years.

Satellite launches in the 2015-2019 timeframe are also planned by the China Meteorological Administration, India Space Research Organization, Korea Meteorological Administration, the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These systems will provide unprecedented capabilities to WMO Members all over the world to support key satellite applications, such as severe weather monitoring, nowcasting and short range forecasting.

However, these satellites will also present unprecedented challenges for users worldwide, mainly in how to manage the order-of-magnitude increase in the amount of data and products to be generated from the advanced imagers and sounders on-board the satellites. In addition, novel data types from geostationary sounders and multi-channel imagers need to be accommodated by operators and users. Early preparation and training of users is essential, ideally starting five years prior to launch.

It is a priority of WMO and of the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), which consists of all the operational satellite operators, to support the user community in light of these challenges. Satellite data users and WMO members require timely technical information on the new satellite generation to exploit its potential operational benefits and socio-economic value.

The WMO Space Programme, with the support of the CGMS member agencies, has developed the online portal SATURN (SATellite User Readiness Navigator) as a single point of access for all information pertinent to the global user community preparations for the new generation of satellites. SATURN also features a generic 5-year reference user readiness project, to assist Members in the preparation to use the new generation of meteorological satellites.

Real-time images from Himawari are available here

More information about EUMETSAT’s MSG-4 Is available here

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