The Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 (MTG-I1) was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on Dec. 13, 2022, and is the first of a new generation of satellites set to revolutionize weather forecasting in Europe, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
"This image is a great example of what European cooperation in space can achieve," ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Simonetta Cheli, said in a statement. "The level of detail MTG-I1’s image reveals, unachievable over Europe and Africa from a geostationary orbit until now, will give us a greater understanding of our planet and the weather systems that shape it."
First image of the full Earth disc from the Meteosat Third Generation Imager. The first image from Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) reveals a level of detail about the weather over Europe and Africa not previously possible from 36 000 km
The image of Earth, captured by the satellite’s Flexible Combined Imager on March 18, shows most of northern and western Europe and Scandinavia blanketed in clouds, while relatively clear skies are observed over Italy and the western Balkans.
"This image represents not just what can be achieved through European expertise but our determination to ensure the benefits of new technology are felt by communities in Europe and beyond," Cheli added.
The ESA said that the instruments onboard the third generation of Meteosat meteorological satellites produce photos with a much higher resolution and more frequently than those on the Meteosat Second Generation satellites.
The photos show stunning details such as cloud vortices over the Canary Islands, snow in the Alps and sediment in the water along the coast of Italy.
This animation from Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 (MTG-I1) imagery, zooming in Europe, was made from one day’s worth of data, from 11:50 UTC 18 March to 11:50 UTC 19 March 2023. MTG-I1 produces images of the full Earth disc every 10 minutes. (EU
Those details are not clearly visible, or not seen at all, in the images from the current second-generation spacecraft.
The new photo of Earth also shows greater detail of the cloud structures at higher latitudes. The ESA says photos will enable weather forecasts to more accurately monitor the evolution of rapidly developing severe weather.
"It might sound odd to be so excited about a cloudy day in most of Europe, but the level of detail seen for the clouds in this image is extraordinarily important to weather forecasts," said Phil Evans, director general at Eumetsat.
The ESA said MTG-I1 is undergoing a 12-month commissioning phase, in which the instruments are switched on, and the data they gather are calibrated.
Data from the satellite will then be sent to meteorological services in Europe and beyond at the end of 2023, which will be used in weather forecasts.