UK delivers new weather satellite instrument for short-range forecasts

The IASI-NG weather satellite instrument is expected to enhance short-range weather forecastsThe IASI-NG weather satellite instrument is expected to enhance short-range weather forecasts

The UK and France have collaborated to develop a sophisticated weather satellite instrument to monitor atmospheric instability and cloud structure with an objective to enhance short-range weather forecasts.

Known as the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer New Generation (IASI-NG), the new weather satellite instrument is a result of a global collaboration between Leonardo, Airbus Defence & Space, and the UK and French space agencies.

The new weather satellite instrument is slated to enter into the orbit aboard European satellite MetOp-SG-A in 2022, and is expected to establish new standards of accuracy in short-term weather prediction.

According to EUMETSAT, the instrument is a passive infrared sounder which can measure the temperature and water vapour profiles of the earth’s atmosphere. The organisation believes that the instrument has a lot of potential to measure greenhouse gases, clouds, ozone, aerosols and trace gases.

Owing to its high resolution temperature and moisture sounding, the IASI-NG weather satellite instrument is expected to enhance nowcasting and very short-range forecasts through the provision of cloud microphysical structure and monitoring of atmospheric instability. EUMETSAT said that this will be useful especially for high latitudes where geostationary satellites have only limited coverage.

The UK Space Agency injected nearly £8.5m in the detector programme to support Leonardo for the development of the required technology capability and to secure participation in a major space programme.

The UK is among the top countries in earth observation technologies, which the UK Space Agency says have a growth of 25% each year and currently support industrial activities worth around £92bn.

The UK Space Agency said that with earth observation becoming more accessible, future opportunities will emerge with the arrival of new technologies and uses, which means the amounts of data being produced is always increasing.

In March 2018, the agency claimed that every £1 of public spending delivers up to £4 in value for the recipients in the space industry, with additional benefits to the UK economy.

UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock said: “The UK space sector is an export success story, generating a third of its income from international trade and creating growth and jobs across the country.

“As this programme demonstrates, the strong working relationship between the British and French space industry is successfully turning future technology into reality.”

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