200th RAL Space instrument launched to help improve weather warnings
24 Jul 2012



The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument, on board the Meteosat Second Generation 3 satellite, is the 200th RAL Space instrument to be launched into space.

Ariane 5 rocket on a launch pad.

Meteosat Second Generation 3 (MSG 3) was successfully sent on its way on 5 July 2012, 22:36 BST, from Kourou in French Guiana

​​​Credit: ESA/VNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG

​​Carried on an Ariane 5, the latest weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful Meteosat Second Generation series, MSG-3, lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 5 July 2012.

The MSG 3 will help weather forecasters predict thunderstorms and fog - providing data for use by meteorologists and climate scientists worldwide. A video of the launch can be viewed online.

The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument which has been developed and manufactured by an international consortium led by STFC’s RAL Space, is one of a pair of instruments onboard the MSG 3 satellite and is the 200th RAL Space instrument to be launched into space.

“The GERB project has had two instruments operating successfully for the last ten years, and this third instrument will allow observation to continue for another 5 years. GERB has allowed scientists to study the Earth Radiation Budget in much more detail than any other instrument, and I am very proud of the technical leadership provided by RAL Space”, said RAL Space Director, Professor Richard Holdaway.

GERB measures how the Earth heats and cools by making high accuracy measurements of the solar radiation absorbed, and the infrared energy emitted.  It can make global measurements every 15 minutes allowing scientist to study events and features such as convective cloud, frontal systems and aerosol variability from dust storms or volcanoes.  It is the first instrument providing dedicated measurements of the Earth radiation budget from geostationary orbit.

The GERB consortium includes the University of Leicester and Imperial College London - the Principal Investigator is Professor John Harries, the current Chief Scientific Advisor to Wales.

Notes to editors

The consortium includes Imperial College London, the University of Leicester, AEA Technology, Galileo Avionica Italy, AMOS Belgium and NPL.

EUMETSAT was formed in 1986 with the objective to provide, from space, information that can be used in weather forecasting and climate applications. It is responsible, together with the European Space Agency (ESA), for the development of the four Meteostat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft on which GERB will operate. The UK Space Agency is responsible for the UK subscription to ESA.

The European Space Agency press release​ can be read online​.

​Further Information​


The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 26 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and five Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.

Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007.

The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.

​For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries