EUMETSAT Council names future Director-General and sets stage for MTG activities to begin
EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, held its 71st Council meeting in Darmstadt, Germany, on 30 November and 1 December. The meeting was chaired by Prof. Petteri Taalas, Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It was the first EUMETSAT Council attended by Romania as a full Member State.
Council appointed Alain Ratier, currently Deputy Director-General of Météo France, to succeed Dr. Lars Prahm as EUMETSAT Director-General starting on 1 August 2011.
Turning to the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) programme, Council achieved a confirmed funding level of around 86 per cent, with 22 of the 26 Member States having firmly committed to the programme. The remaining four Member States are expected to follow suit soon, pending the completion of national approval procedures.
The funding level is high enough for the MTG programme preliminary activities to proceed in January 2011, pending the approval of Portugal. Dr. Prahm said, “It is extremely important for the MTG programme activities to start as soon as possible.”
Council also gave the green light for preparations for the upcoming launches of the Metop-B polar-orbiting satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome during the second quarter of 2012 and the third Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-3) geostationary satellite from the Kourou Space Centre during the third quarter of 2012. It will be the first time EUMETSAT prepares two launches for the same year.
Regarding Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), Council approved the preparation of a Programme Proposalfor a third-party programme for the establishment of GMES user requirements on behalf of the European Commission.
Council also approved implementation of several proposals to expand data access for EUMETSAT’s user community. As part of EUMETSAT’s increasing cooperation on data exchange with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Council approved a near-real-time dissemination system for data from the scatterometer on board ISRO’s Oceansat-2 satellite. Council also gave the go-ahead for implementation of a pilot EUMETSAT Advanced Retransmission Service (EARS) Nowcasting service, comprising Cloud Mask, Cloud Type and Cloud Top Temperature and height products.
Furthermore, Council agreed to plans for a set of baseline services for providing fast access to European users to data from the future US NPP/JPSS-1 satellites. In order to do so, the EUMETSAT Director-General received the go-ahead from Council to establish cooperative arrangements for the provision of NPP/JPSS-1 data with direct readout station operators.
Finally, Council approved a data exchange agreement with the Korea Meteorological Administration and authorised the EUMETSAT Director-General to sign it.