last updated 28 October 2015

Personal, brief summaries for the non-GOES geosynchronous weather satellites, gleaned from semi-reliable sources:

Current Earthview from any satellite


Meteorological Satellite (European)



In 1995, EUMETSAT began encrypting digital images and selling commercial licenses to receive METEOSAT real time broadcasts. EUMETSAT has made an international arrangement for METEOSAT encrypted data distribution via NOAA. Non-commercial users can arrange to get it from NOAA. EUMETSAT posts a dissemination schedule. Radiometric calibration of the first-generation METEOSATs is indirect, through calculations and secondary earth-targets. METEOSAT navigation can be estimated using geometry and FORTRAN code.

  • The orbital status of the GOES and METEOSATs are updated occasionally at NOAA.


    In the spring of 1998, METEOSAT-5 was moved to 67E to cover the Indian Ocean until 2000 AD, under a program called INDOEX.

    An American site at UCSD describes the INDOEX science.

    METEOSAT-5 has been re-located to a position around 63E. The re-location lasted from 14 January until 18 May 1998. The routine INDOEX mission started in July 1998.

    Only high resolution image formats will be disseminated on channel A2. There are AIVH and AW formats during daylight and AIW during night. PDUS reception coverage is possible from about 135E to 4W. A subset of the images taken by Meteosat-5 will be disseminated as hourly X-formats (XI, XVH) via the prime mission satellite at 0E. Additionally some reduced image formats are made available via the Internet at 3-hourly intervals.

    Due to the high orbit inclination of METEOSAT-5, users may require a special PDUS set-up:
    Use of a smaller diameter antenna or
    Defocusing of the antenna feed.

    PDUS users will require two separate reception systems for direct reception of image data from 0E and 63E simultaneously. MKU's are required for other than 6-hourly image intervals.

    Users who receive the HRI images from Meteosat-5 either directly or via the prime mission spacecraft, should note that these images can be easily distinguished from the other Meteosat images by checking the parameters in the identification field of the dissemination formats, i.e. the satellite identifier (bytes 1 and 2) and the longitude of the sub-satellite point (bytes 25 and 26).

    INDOEX satellite images were on-line at EUMETSAT.

    Data Policy for INDOEX

    Below is a brief description of EUMETSAT's Data Policy for INDOEX. In view of the short term experimental nature of this activity, this deviates from EUMETSAT's standard Data Policy.

    INDOEX real time data are available free of charge to all users for any type of use. Access to encrypted real time data will be subject to a license agreement, in order to ensure the protection of EUMETSAT's Intellectual Property Rights. The necessary decryption key unit (MKU) will be provided to users at the currently applicable cost (700 ECU).

    Access to INDOEX data archived in the MARF is also free of charge except for the payment of marginal costs of delivery as currently applicable. Again, access to MARF data will be subject to a simplified license agreement, in order to ensure the protection of EUMETSAT's Intellectual Property Rights. The Data Policy for INDOEX will apply only for the duration of the INDOEX activity, as agreed at the 34th EUMETSAT Council, i.e. until the end of 1999.

    The mission was later renamed Indian Ocean Data Coverage (IODC).



    EUMETSAT's MSG satellite carries a 12-channel spinning Imager called SEVIRI, with a 1 km resolution visible band and 3 km resolution infrared bands, 8 of which are in the thermal infared.

    Spectral Band
    Spatial Resolution
    Principal Sensitivity
    HRV 0.75 0.6-0.9 1 km cloud texture, winds
    VIS 0.64 0.56-0.71 3 km cloud over land, winds
    VIS 0.81 0.74-0.88 3 km cloud over water, vegetation
    NIR 1.6 1.50-1.78 3 km cloud over snow
    MIR 3.8 3.48-4.36 3 km low cloud
    IR 6.2 5.35-7.15 3 km high water vapor
    IR 7.3 6.85-7.85 3 km middle water vapor
    IR 8.7 8.30-9.10 3 km total water vapor
    IR 9.7 9.38-9.94 3 km total ozone
    IR 10.8 9.80-11.80 3 km surface & cloud top temp., winds
    IR 12.0 11.00-13.00 3 km surface temp. correction
    IR 13.4 12.40-13.40 3 km higher clouds
    Montage of the first MSG-1 images.

    There is a MSG glossy brochure (2.5 MB PDF).

    MSG is capable of full-disk images every 15 minutes. With a 60-cm aperture and a ton of spin-stabilized mass, imagery is sharp and stable.

    Bandwidth limitations allow it to only downlink half of the 1 km resolution visible data (the left, middle, or right portion of the full-width scan). Their method for data compression is to throw away half of the image.

    MSG-1 was originally scheduled to launch in October 2000, but was delayed until July 2001 to deal with issues with the launch (moving from a dedicated launch on Ariane-4 to a rougher, shared launch on Ariane-5) and the ground segment. Further concerns about the ground system readiness delayed the launch schedule to August 2002. The MSG-1 satellite was successfully launched on 28 August 2002, and turned over to EUMETSAT on 25 September.

    However, on 17 October 2002, a MSG-1 power supply switched off unexpectedly. After that event, the three remaining power supplies were babied, preventing the global rebroadcast of the full resolution imagery, which was routed through commercial communications satellites. As of November 2003, SEVERI HRIT and LRIT data was transmitted via EUMETCast, a satellite DVB broadcast system that provides coverage over Europe, Africa, the Middle East and parts of eastern North and South America. The first official full-disk images were taken by MSG-1 on 28 November 2002.

    After launch, there was one year of commissioning the ground system and validating calibrated imagery from MSG-1. When MSG-1 became operational in 2004, it was renamed METEOSAT-8.

    MSG-2 was originally scheduled for launch in 2002. It was eventually launched on 21 December 2005 and renamed METEOSAT-9. The first public image was taken 24 January 2006.

    MSG-3 was originally scheduled for launch in 2006. In 2003, it was rescheduled to launch in 2009. MSG-3 was successfully launched on 5 July 2012, and its first public image was taken 7 August 2012. MSG-3 was renamed METEOSAT-10 after 6 months of post-launch testing, and made operational, replacing METEOSAT-9, in mid-January 2013.

    In spring 2003, EUMETSAT contracted for MSG-4, which eventually spent five years in storage because it was not needed in orbit. MSG-4 was launched on an Ariane-5 on 15 July 2015 and handed over to EUMETSAT on 26 July for 6 months of testing to be followed by on-orbit storage.

    The total cost of the MSG program to EUMETSAT through 2015 is 1.637 billion euros.

    ESA posted a Research Announcement of Opportunity (RAO) that solicits proposals to develop new and better satellite data products from MSG.



    EUMETSAT's MTG mission will consist of satellite pairs, one carrying a multispectral imager (MTG-I), the other a hyperspectral sounder (MTG-S). Four imagers and two sounders are planned. For the first time in the METEOSAT series, the satellites will be 3-axis stabilized, with constantly earth-pointing instruments.

    In 2012, ESA and TAS signed the MTG contract. Thales Alenia Space (TAS, France) leads the industrial consortium that is building the MTG family. Along with being the prime contractor, TAS is responsible for the MTG-I imaging satellite, including the primary payload, the FCI (Flexible Combined Imager). Bremen-based OHB is responsible for the MTG-S satellites and the provision of the common six satellite platforms, supported by Astrium GmbH as the System Architect. The IRS (Infrared Sounder), to be flown on MTG-S, will be developed by Kayser Threde.

    The imaging satellite will carry a 16 channel scanning imager, and a high-resolution 4 channel mesoscale imager. The sounding satellite will carry an infrared instrument for temperature-moisture profiling, a lightning mapper, and a reflected sunlight instrument for pollution tracking over Europe. When ESA contracted for the MTG instrument payload with Astrium in mid-2011, the atmospheric mission was then called "Sentinel-4".

    EUMETSAT has published the basic performance requirements for the baseline MTG instruments.

    In 2009, the planned launch schedule for the imaging satellites was: MTG-I-1 in 2015, MTG-I-2 in 2020, MTG-I-3 in 2024, and MTG-I-4 in 2028. The launch schedule for the sounding satellites was: MTG-S-1 in 2018, and MTG-S-2 in 2026. By 2012, the announced launch schedule was more vague: "The MTG series will comprise six satellites, with the first spacecraft likely to be ready for launch from 2020." In early 2013, MTG-I-1 was scheduled for launch in 2018, and MTG-S-1 in 2020.

    By the mid-2030's, the METEOSAT Fourth Generation (MFG) will be needed.

    Additional information about European satellites


    GMS Geosynchronous Meteorological Satellite aka "Himawari" (Japan)


    MTSAT "Multipurpose Transportation Satellite"

    MTSAT is a Japanese weather satellite for geosynchronous orbit. MTSAT is a three-axis stabilized spacecraft and carries both a meteorological mission and an aeronautical communications mission. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). contracted for MTSAT as a successor to GMS-5, in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Bureau (CAB), of the Ministry of Transport of Japan. The Japanese weather satellites are operated by JMA's Meteorological Satellite Center.

    Design Life more than 5 years for the meteorological mission,
    more than 10 years for the air traffic control mission
    Survival Probability (Estimated) 0.89 or greater for 5 years for the meteorological mission
    0.81 or greater for 10 years for the air-traffic control mission
    Orbital Position +/- 0.1 degrees north-south and east-west, from its nominal position of 140E longitude
    Imaging period Full earth disc within 27.5 minutes
    Imager characteristics Visible 0.55 - 0.80 micron
    IR1 10.3 - 11.3 micron
    IR2 11.5 - 12.5 micron
    IR3 6.5 - 7.0 micron
    IR4 3.5 - 4.0 micron
    Signal quantisation 10 bits for both Visible and IR
    Resolution (at the sub-satellite point) 1 km for Visible, 4 km for IR
    Imager Data Transmission Rate 2.62 Mbps
    Telecommunications Transmission of raw image data
    Functions Relay of High REsolution imager data (HiRED)
    Relay of WEFAX and LRIT signals
    Relay of DCP reports
    Relay of DCP interrogation messages

    In the late 1990's, MTSAT-1 was constructed by Space Systems/Loral, and integrated with an Imager by ITT/Fort Wayne, and shipped to Japan in March 1999. Unfortunately, the Japanese H-2 rocket launch failed in mid-November 1999.

    The MTSAT-1 replacement is called MTSAT-1R. In March 2000, the contract for MTSAT-1R was awarded to SS/Loral. Launch was originally scheduled for March 2003. In November 2001, the MTSAT-1R launch was rescheduled to mid-summer 2003, due to delays created by US technology transfer restrictions. In the spring of 2003, launch was rescheduled to early 2004, due to problems during thermal-vacuum testing of the MTSAT Imager. In the fall of 2003, SS/Loral went bankrupt, temporarily delaying the shipment of MTSAT-1R. MTSAT-1R was successfully launched on 26 February 2005. MTSAT-1R became operational in mid-2005 at 140E longitude.

    On MTSAT-1R, a Japanese Advanced Meteorological Imager (JAMI) was supplied by Raytheon/Santa Barbara Research Systems (SBRS), not by ITT/Fort Wayne. The imaging schedule calls for one full-disk and one northern hemisphere scan per hour for cloud-tracked wind estimation.

    MTSAT-1R's first published full-disk images were taken at midday on 23 March 2005. After becoming operational in mid-2005, the MTSAT-1R images are being published on the web.

    MTSAT-1 is similar to the GOES-I/M Satellites, but carrying more communications gear and no Sounder. The MTSAT-1 5-band Imager by ITT had performance improvements over the GOES-I/M Imagers by ITT:

    The MTSAT-1 Imager retained the 12 micron infrared channel that is useful for detecting clouds of volcanic ash. (Starting with GOES-N, NOAA will replace the 12 micron band with a 13 micron band for estimating high altitude cloud cover).

    MTSAT-2 was launched on 24 February 2006. MTSAT-2 will be left in cold storage on-orbit at 145E longitude until it is needed to replace MTSAT-1R, circa 2010. The MTSAT-2 spacecraft contract was awarded late in 2000 to MELCO, also known as Mitsubishi Electric Space Systems, with MTSAT-2's Imager to be supplied again by ITT/Fort Wayne. The major improvement in the ITT Imager is the noise performance of the infrared channels. MTSAT-2 will be the first to employ Mitsubishi's new communciations bus.

    In May 2010, JMA began preparations to switch from MTSAT-1R to MTSAT-2 on 1 July 2010. As of mid-2013, operational image loops from MTSAT-2 can be viewed at the web site

    NEDT Requirements
    IR1 0.20K @300K 0.10K @300K
    0.55K @220K 0.25K @220K
    IR2 0.22K @300K 0.10K @300K
    0.55K @220K 0.25K @220K
    IR3 0.15K @300K 0.10K @300K
    0.85K @220K 0.65K @220K
    IR4 0.35K @300K 0.10K @300K
    ---------- 2.50K @220K
    In addition, MTSAT-2 image navigation and calibration are included in the spacecraft contract to use the latest computers and algorithms.

    In Japan, JMA refers to MTSAT-1R as HIMAWARI-6 and MTSAT-2 as HIMAWARI-7, while the MTSAT names continue to be used in the western press.

    Following Himawari-8 becoming JMA's primary operational geostationary satellite at 140E on July 7, 2015, MTSAT-2 will now provide back-up data in parallel with Himawari-8 until about November 2015.


    The word "himawari" means "sunflower" in Japanese, a feel-good name widely used in their pop-art.


    FY2 "Wind-Cloud 2" (China)


    FY4 "Wind-Cloud 4" (China)

    China's Future Meteorological Satellite Plans
    Date: 2012-10-24
    China plans to launch 11 weather satellites by 2020 to better analyze the climate, monitor natural hazards and forecast weather, according to a national meteorological satellite development plan.
    The plan, released on Wednesday by the China Meteorological Administration, states that about 22 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) will be invested into the satellite program.
    "The program will largely improve the country's weather forecast capacity and reduce economic losses caused by extreme weather events," said Yang Jun, director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center.
    He said all 11 satellites are operational and experimental satellites will also be launched, but there are no details available on the number of experimental satellites.
    According to the plan, from 2012 to 2020 China will launch one weather satellite every year, except in 2012 and 2019, when it will launch two. The satellites launched in 2019 will include one to monitor precipitation.
    "The precipitation-monitoring satellite will help the country avoid the sort of damage caused by rainstorms, like what Beijing residents experienced in July" Yang said.
    Devastating floods caused by torrential rain claimed 79 lives in the capital on July 21.
    Frequent natural disasters and growing environmental awareness has led to increasing demand for weather data, such as PM2.5, meaning particulate matter in the air that is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, Yang said.
    Li Qing, an engineer at the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, said the coming 10 years will be a peak period for the country's development of weather satellite technology.
    China is accelerating its pace of research and development in satellite technologies and broadening international cooperation.
    The China Meteorological Administration and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites in Germany has shared data from FY-3B, a Chinese polar-orbiting satellite, available to users in Europe and beyond, since January.
    The country will also have talks with countries including the United States and Canada on research and development of the satellite design and data processing to boost China's satellite development, according to the plan.
    China has launched 12 weather satellites in the Fengyun series since 1988, including six satellites in polar orbits and six in geosynchronous orbit. Currently there are seven weather satellites in operation.
    Although 11 additional satellites will be in operation by 2020, Yang is not satisfied, and said the more weather satellites launched, the more reliable can the weather forecast be.


    GOMS Geosynchronous Operational Meteorological Satellite (Russia)


    ELEKTRO-L painting ELEKTRO-L (Russia) ELEKTRO-L photo
    Performance Characteristics of MSU-GS
    Number of channels, VIS & IR 3 & 7
    Spectral range at half maximum of spectral response (microns) 0.50-0.65, 0.65-0.80, 0.80-0.90,
    3.5-4.0, 5.7-7.0, 7.5-8.5, 8.2-9.2,
    9.2-10.2, 10.2-11.2, 11.2-12.5
    Image frame (deg x deg) 20 x 20
    Ground resolution at nadir (km) 1.0 (VIS) & 4.0 (IR)
    S/N ratio for VIS channels > 200/1
    NEDT at 300K (K)

    0.8 at 3.5-4.0 microns
    0.4 at 5.7-7.0 microns
    0.1-0.2 at 7.5 to 12.5 microns

    Power (W) < 150
    Mass (kg) < 88

    In September 2013, ELEKTRO-L1 delivered a daytime true-color movie of the eastern hemisphere at equinox.


    GOES Indian Satellite (India)


    COMS Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite - KOMPSAT (Korea)