ESA’s Arctic Weather Satellite mission aims to enhance weather forecasting capabilities in the Arctic region, which currently lacks sufficient data for accurate short-term forecasts. This microsatellite, developed and built under the New Space approach, has been completed within just 36 months and has been shipped from OHB in Sweden to undergo a series of tests in Germany.
Satellites in geostationary and polar orbits provide meteorologists with valuable information for weather forecasting. However, these satellites do not have visibility over the Arctic region, resulting in insufficient monitoring. The Arctic Weather Satellite serves as a prototype for the potential EPS-Sterna constellation, consisting of six microsatellites in three orbital planes. This constellation would enable continuous temperature and humidity data collection from every location on Earth, facilitating short-range weather forecasting in the Arctic and improving global weather forecasts.
Before the EPS-Sterna mission can be realized, the Arctic Weather Satellite prototype needs to demonstrate its effectiveness. The satellite is equipped with a 19-channel cross-track scanning microwave radiometer, which will provide high-resolution humidity and temperature soundings in all weather conditions. The instrument’s design draws from the heritage of the Microwave Sounder developed for the MetOp Second Generation satellites.
The satellite has undergone successful testing of its links with the mission control center in Norway. It has now been transported to Germany for environmental tests, including exposure to liftoff vibrations, noise, and temperature variations in vacuum conditions. Following these tests, the satellite will undergo final checks at OHB Sweden before being transported to SpaceX’s launch site in California for liftoff on June 1, 2024, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
ESA’s Arctic Weather Satellite project demonstrates the commitment to advancing space capabilities while meeting tight schedules and cost-effectiveness. By enhancing weather forecasts in the Arctic, this mission will contribute to improved preparedness and understanding of weather patterns in a region that has lacked adequate data.