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Contract signed to build Arctic weather satellite

on 19 March 2021

With the need for satellite data to be received more frequently for faster weather forecasting updates in the Arctic, ESA has signed a contract with OHB Sweden to build a prototype satellite for the Arctic Weather Satellite mission.

This prototype is the forerunner of a potential constellation of satellites that would supply an almost constant stream of temperature and humidity data from every location on Earth – allowing, for the first time, for very short-range weather forecasting, or ‘nowcasting’, in the Arctic. Meteorologists will also use the mission to improve weather forecasts around the world.

Accurate weather forecasts are an essential part of everyday life, used from simply deciding what clothes to wear to planning crop harvesting, ship routing and managing renewable energy resources.

Today, satellites, both those in geostationary orbit and in polar orbit, provide a wealth of information that meteorologists use routinely to forecast the weather, however, the monitoring of the Arctic remains insufficient.

Europe’s Meteosat geostationary satellites positioned 36 000 km above the equator return images every 15 minutes over the full Earth and every five minutes over Europe, they have no visibility of higher latitudes, closer to the poles, and so cannot be used for Arctic weather forecasting.

More details here.

Image credit: ESA–J. Huart, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO