New Satellite has begun taking the Earths Temperature
17 Aug 2012



The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) 3 instrument, aboard the latest European weather satellite MSG-3, was successfully activated on 9th August and the first image produced the next day.

Two images of Earth showing calibrated radiances for the shortwave channel and total channel.

GERB 3 (level 1.5) filtered shortwave and total channel radiances, with the level 1.5 being optional descriptor


Press release: Friday 17 August 2012

​The data that will now become available from GERB 3 will be vital to validate climate models in new ways and measure clear changes in climactic patterns.

The GERB instrument, 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, which is operated by EUMETSAT. The switch-on of GERB follows the successful switch-on and release of the first image from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager SEVIRI earlier in the week. GERB is a visible-infrared radiometer for Earth radiation budget studies, making accurate measurements of the short wave (SW) and long wave (LW) components of the radiation budget at the top of the atmosphere.

Speaking about the successful activation Dr Jacqui Russell from RAL Space said "Whilst there are still a lot of tests to be done, this first measurement from GERB 3 on MSG-3 indicates good instrument performance in both channels, showing the instrument is measuring the emitted thermal and reflected energy from the Earth as expected. Its operation should enable us to continue the climate record of high time resolution geostationary radiation budget measurements for several more years."

"​The 9 years of data already accumulated from GERBs 1 and 2 have enabled us to test climate models in new ways and are providing a unique insight into how the emitted and reflected energy fluxes changes though the day and in response to changes in cloud and aerosol; the longer the record the more understanding is gained and we can begin to look at longer term climate trends, so we are very glad that all indications so far for GERB 3 are positive and promise a further 3 to 5 years of measurements." 

GERB measures how the Earth heats and cools by making high accuracy measurements of the solar radiation absorbed, and the infrared energy emitted.  It provides measurements every 15 minutes allowing scientists 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 and will provide data for use by meteorologists and climate scientists worldwide.

The image shows calibrated radiances produced by RAL Space for the shortwave (SW) channel which measures reflected sunlight and its total channel sensitive to all outgoing energy from thermal emissions by the earth and reflected sunlight. These observations allow reflected shortwave and emitted longwave fluxes to be calculated that are then used by scientists for studying climate. ​​

Further Information​

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 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