Astrium to build instruments for next-generation weather forecasting satellite

18 October 2013

  • Astrium signs a €230m contract to supply the French Space Agency (CNES) with IASI-NG instruments for Europe‘s Meteorological Satellite Agency EUMETSAT’s future MetOp-SG satellites
  • The numerical weather forecasting instruments will provide atmospheric temperature and humidity data with twice the accuracy of the previous generation
  • Fourth contract in four months for Astrium for the supply of cutting-edge space equipment

Astrium, world’s second ranking space company, has been awarded a €230m contract as prime contractor for next-generation Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI-NG) instruments by the French Space Agency (CNES).

The IASI-NG instruments will form part of the state-of-the-art instrumentation carried by the MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) satellites, which constitute the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System Second Generation (EPS-SG). The prototype satellites are developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and will be operated by EUMETSAT, Europe’s Meteorological Satellite Agency.

“In the middle of July ESA entrusted us with the design and manufacture of the MWS (MicroWave Sounder) instruments for MetOp-SG, and today the CNES has charged us with the task of developing and building a new instrument for this pioneering meteorological mission,” said Astrium Satellites CEO Eric Béranger. “Along with the high-performance instrument for the EUCLID mission and the contract, won in an international competition, for the supply of an ocean imager to the Korean Space Agency, the Astrium teams working on space instruments have now scored four successes in as many months. This is yet more proof that Astrium’s know-how and expertise are backed up by extremely solid results on the commercial front.”

IASI-NG data is obtained from measurements taken with the aid of a Fourier-transform spectrometer, which is the interferometer’s core. Its principal mission is to scan the various layers of the atmosphere, from the bottom to the top, in order to provide extremely accurate data on temperature and humidity. This information is used in real time by weather forecasters, who will draw on the high performance of IASI-NG instruments (which offer twice the spectral and radiometric accuracy of the previous generation) to significantly improve the quality and reliability of their forecasts.

IASI-NG will also provide data on the concentrations of different gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon monoxide. This data is extremely valuable to scientists in the chemical analysis of the atmosphere, and in tracking this data they can monitor air pollution, the state of the ozone layer and the global effect of greenhouse gases in real time.

The main components of the IASI-NG instrument are as follows:

  • A mirror-sweeping system, which, in conjunction with the satellite’s orbit, allows complete coverage of the Earth;
  • Two ultra-light silicon carbide (SiC) telescopes for transmitting optical beams;
  • An interferometer based on an innovative concept that is the subject of an Astrium/CNES patent and that simultaneously allows data to be acquired and parasitic effects to be compensated for with great accuracy;
  • A detection unit stored at a cryogenic temperature (of around -200°C), enabling coverage of the infrared band of 3.6 to 15.5 microns at an optimum signal-to-noise ratio;
  • An on-board real-time data processing system for pre-processing the huge amount of data acquired prior to its transmission to the ground.

 About Astrium 

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the second in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Astrium Satellites, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Astrium Services, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.

Press contacts:

Jeremy Close
Media Relations UK
Astrium United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy
Astrium France
Media Relations France
Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich
Media Relations Germany
Airbus Defence and Space Germany
Tel.: +49 89 60 73 39 71
Fax: +49 89 60 78 53 39
Francisco Lechon
Media Relations Spain
Airbus Defence and Space Spain
Tel.: +34 91 5 86 37 41
Fax: +34 91 5 86 37 82


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