Final receivers for MetOp-SG delivered
30 Jun 2023



RAL Space has delivered the last of 20 millimetre wave receivers developed for the Microwave Sounder and Microwave Imager instruments on board the MetOp-Second Generation satellites.




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One of the millimetre wave receivers inside the laboratory at RAL Space. Credit: STFC RAL Space, courtesy of ESA.​

MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) is a programme of six weather satellites led by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), which will be launched between 2024 and 2039 in three successive pairs. RAL Space has delivered a total of 20 flight-ready millimetre wave receivers which will fly across the six satellites.

The RAL Space team, led by the Millimetre-wave Technology Group, designed, manufactured and tested the receivers which will support global weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

Compared to their MetOp predecessors, MetOp-SG satellites will have a wider range of payloads providing increased observational capability with improved sensitivity, thanks in part to RAL Space’s state of the art millimetre-wave technology. The new MetOp-SG receivers will deliver improved atmospheric temperature and humidity data to meteorologists, resulting in more accurate weather forecasts, and better prediction and tracking of extreme weather phenomena.

The receivers and components have been delivered to three Airbus Defence and Space sites in the UK, France & Spain, where some have already been integrated onto the satellites’ instruments and undergone further testing.​

The MetOp-SG team at RAL Space. Credit: STFC RAL Space

​Graham Marshall, MetOp-SG Receiver Programme Manager at RAL Space said: “This achievement is a testament to the entire MetOp-SG team at RAL Space. From our technologists and engineers leading the early development of these receivers, to our incredibly tenacious assembly engineers working to the highest quality, colleagues in our Precision Development Facility precisely manufacturing each tiny component, and our Environmental Test team ensuring each instrument is fit for space, delivering these receivers has really been a huge team effort. I'm extremely proud to have been a part of this team."

Dr Simon Rea, Lead Engineer on the programme at RAL Space added: “Having worked on the MetOp-SG mission from the first feasibility study starting in 2007, I am delighted to have reached the milestone of the final flight receiver delivery to our customers in this phase of the programme. I'd like to thank the entire team within RAL Space whose expertise and dedication have made this possible. We are now collectively looking forward to the satellites becoming operational and the impact the data will have on weather forecasting and climate modelling."

​Further involvement with MetOp-SG

RAL Space has also supplied a further 9 millimetre wave receivers to Radiometer Physics GmbH, Germany, for use on the MetOp-SG’s Ice Cloud Imager instruments.

Last year, Airbus Defence and Space completed a successful campaign to calibrate the Microwave Sounder (MWS) instrument using RAL Space facilities, supported by both the RAL Space calibration project team and the thermal vacuum test team, to ensure that the instrument's measurements will be as accurate as possible while operating in space. RAL Space scientists and engineers previously designed and built a test rig dedicated to calibrating MWS in a thermal vacuum environment, simulating space. The instrument has since been installed onto MetOp-SG Satellite A. RAL Space will also test the two recurrent MWS flight models for the next pairs of satellites.

Data from MetOp-SG will be sent to the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA, based within RAL Space), where atmospheric scientists can use it to study our climate.​​

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​MetOp-SG Satellite A, with the MWS instrument installed. Courtesy of ESA.