European Space Agency

METEOSAT Users’ Guide

  • An uncommon, early user’s guide to METEOSAT, the European Space Agency’s meteorological satellite network, published in 1976 or early 1977, just before the system’s first satellite became operational in December, 1977. We can locate no copies of this guide at auction or institutionally.

    METEOSAT was designed for long-term weather forecasting, and “when the first Meteosat satellite took its place in the sky, it completed coverage of the whole globe from geostationary orbit and laid the foundations for European and world cooperation in meteorology that continues today... Meteosat was an important milestone in European cooperation in space. Individual countries had pioneered monitoring of the ionosphere from space and the European Space Conferences of the 1960s agreed in principle that there should be a European weather satellite, but it was not until Meteosat that the potential for meteorological satellites began to be fulfilled... Meteosat-1 lifted off at 13:35 GMT on 23 November 1977 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It reached its operational orbit on 7 December 1977, and its first image was sent back on 9 December. It was the first satellite in geostationary orbit to have a water vapour channel to track the motion of moisture in the air. The new satellite required great improvements in ESA’s computing power – both for telemetry and for image data processing. From its position over the Greenwich meridian, Meteosat-1 could scan Earth’s full disc every 30 minutes, with the data being provided in near-real time to users. Since the launch of the first Meteosat, 40 years of imagery and derived meteorological data from it and its successors have helped to significantly improve weather forecasting. There are 35 years’ worth of Meteosat imagery available online and the satellite’s record of imaging from space constitutes an important body of evidence in climate science.” ("Forty Years of METEOSAT", ESA History of Europe in Space website).

    The contents of this twelve page pamphlet give “a brief description of the METEOSAT system, its mission, and the services it will offer for a better understanding of the earth and its near environment”, as explained in the introduction by Dr. Dieter Lennertz, Head of the Meteorological Programmes Office of the ESA. The contents include a map of the satellite's coverage; a list of missions ("Imaging, every half hours, of the earth’s surface and cloud cover, in one band of the visible spectrum and in two bands of the infra-red spectrum..."); a list of the major components of the whole satellite and ground-based system; the products that will be available to users ("high-resolution images of the earth and its cloud cover... meteorological information: wind fields, sea surface temperatures, cloud cover, cloud-top altitude, radiative exchange balances, measurements of the water vapour content of the upper troposphere... environment data"); and how this information will be collected and disseminated.

  • ...A Short Introduction to METEOSAT and Its Use. Toulouse, France: ESA Meteorological Programmes office, [c. 1976].

    Duodecimo, 12 pages. Original colour printed wrappers, stapled. Charts and diagrams within the text, illustration of a METEOSAT satellite in the lab from a colour photo. Wrappers lightly rubbed, some minor fading and creasing along the spine. Excellent condition.





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