A new European weather satellite is ready for launch Tuesday night aboard a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, and these photos illustrate the final weeks of the spacecraft’s launch campaign.
The 9,003-pound (4,084-kilogram) MetOp-C weather satellite will launch into a polar orbit roughly 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth to measure key atmospheric variables, data necessary to feed global numerical weather prediction models.
MetOp-C was built by Airbus Defense and Space, and it’s the third in a series of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites owned by Eumetsat, Europe’s weather satellite agency. Eumetsat and NOAA have a data-sharing arrangement, sharing responsibilities for polar orbit weather coverage between European and U.S. spacecraft.
Designed for a seven-year mission, MetOp-C will help improve medium-range forecasts ranging from 12 hours to 10 days out. Its instruments will measure temperature, humidity, ozone, trace gases, and wind speeds over the oceans.
Read our full story for a preview of the mission.
The photos below show fueling of the MetOp-C satellite at the Guiana Space Center, followed by its attachment to the Soyuz rocket’s Fregat upper stage, which will direct the spacecraft into its targeted orbit. The photo gallery also shows encapsulation of the satellite and the Fregat upper stage inside the Soyuz rocket’s payload fairing.
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