Europe's MSG-3 weather satellite is prepared for next Ariane 5 mission

The Meteosat Second Generation-3 (MSG-3) spacecraft for Arianespace’s upcoming dual-passenger Ariane 5 mission is undergoing pre-launch processing at the Spaceport for a June 19 liftoff with the EchoStar XVII broadband services relay satellite.

Validations performed with MSG-3 in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility include checkout of the satellite’s solar panels, which are installed on eight curved panels around the exterior of this 3.2-meter diameter, spin-stabilized spacecraft.

MSG-3 will be the ninth Meteosat-series weather satellite launched by Ariane vehicles from French Guiana since 1981, and is the no. 3 spacecraft in the second-generation series – following the initial two orbited by Arianespace in August 2002 and December 2005.  They are the result of a joint undertaking of the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT (the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites).

With a liftoff mass of approximately 2,000 kg., MSG-3 will operate in geostationary orbit after its deployment by Ariane 5, providing highly detailed imagery of Europe, the North Atlantic and Africa for use by meteorologists and national weather forecasters. 

The satellite’s primary instrument is the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infra-red Imager (SEVIRI), which builds images of the Earth's surface and atmosphere in 12 different wavelengths once every 15 minutes.  Four of the 12 SEVIRI channels look at sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface and clouds, while the remaining eight are designed to monitor thermal infrared wavelengths.

Also carried on MSG-3 is the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument for measurements of radiation originating on Earth from the Sun.  The payload is completed by a communications package for the rebroadcast of EUMETSAT data to end users' ground stations, as well as a search and rescue transponder for the international Cospas-Sarsat program.

MSG-3 was produced by an industry consortium led by Thales Alenia Space.

The launch of MSG-3 and its EchoStar XVII co-passenger will be on Arianespace’s third heavy-lift flight with Ariane 5 in 2012.  It follows the May 15 launch of two telecommunications satellites for Asia: JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2; and the March 23 liftoff with Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle for servicing of the International Space Station.

Source: Arianespace
Date: May 22, 2012