Meet the Satellite – Meteosat Second Generation

Meteosat Second Generation, or MSG as it’s known for short, is positioned at 36,000 km away and operates over Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Middle East and parts of Latin America.

Our full-size replica model outside EUMETSAT HQ in Darmstadt

There are four satellites in orbit: Meteosat -8, -9, -10 and -11. From these satellites we get images over central Europe and Africa every 15 minutes, plus additional images of Europe every five minutes. Meteosat-8 is positioned over the Indian Ocean to provide complementary observations for that region.

These data are fed into weather forecast models, which are used to track the rapid evolution of storms, so that weather forecasters can provide warnings to help protect people around the world from adverse weather impacts.

Each satellite carries two instruments on board:

  • the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI)
  • the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument


The main instrument on board each satellite is SEVIRI – it collects images in many different regions (channels) of the spectrum, from infrared to visible. Each channel provides slightly different information, such as the temperature of the clouds, land or sea, the particle size in the clouds and how much vegetation or water vapour there is. These are all used to diagnose the current state of the environment and then used to make a forecast.

The GERB instrument is used to monitor the change in the Earth’s storage of the Sun’s energy – essential for monitoring heating as part of climate change monitoring.

The antennas on board also help with search and rescue efforts by locating distress signals and relaying this information back to emergency services.

Hear for yourself and get to know MSG better with Mark Higgins, Training Manager at EUMETSAT, as he shows you around our real-size model here:


Although these satellites are still operational, we are getting ready for the next generation of geostationary satellites: Meteosat Third Generation (MTG). These six new satellites will start launching from 2022 onwards; continuing the work of MSG but offering new capabilities, such as the Lightning Imager, which will provide real time lightning location and detection. Read more about MTG here.

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Natalie Lunt

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