New satellite offers additional data for climate change scientists
The latest piece of Leicester-built space technology launched into orbit is a component of the GERB-3 radiometer aboard the MSG-3 satellite, which blasted off earlier this month atop an Ariane-5 rocket.
MSG-3 is the third in a series of four Meteosat Second Generation weather satellites launched by ESA between 2002 and 2015. Alongside its primary weather/climate equipment, MSG-3 carries the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget device which will measure how much solar radiation is reflected back into space - essential information for climate change scientists.
The radiometer’s focal plane assembly was designed and built in our Department of Physics and Astronomy. This is a collection of 256 detector elements, each measuring just 50 microns by 50 microns, which measure radiation reflected from the Earth at a 50km2 resolution. The entire Earth disc can be sampled in five minutes because the satellite spins at 100rpm. The downside of this is that the GERB, being situated on the spacecraft’s edge, is subject to massive centripetal force. So all its components, including the focal plane assembly, must withstand a force of 18G!
The GERB project is led by Imperial College London. The MSG satellite, which is owned by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) was constructed in Toulouse and launched on 5 July 2012 from Kourou, French Guiana.