Thursday, September 20, 2012

Europe's new weather satellite MetOp-B

On September 17, a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur brought Europe's newest weather satellite in an 805 x 810 km polar orbit: MetOp-B (2012-049A). She joins her sister-ship MetOp-A launched in 2006. In total, three of these polar-orbiting satellites are planned.

(click image to enlarge)

Yesterday evening, two days after launch, it was briefly clear in Leiden. With scattered clouds in the sky (see the streaks in the upper right corner of the image) I shot the above image of Metop-B passing through Lyra (brightest star is Vega).

A very faint second trail can be seen near the right end of the brighter MetOp-B trail, going obliquely upwards. This is an old Russian r/b (1982-096B) from the 1982 launch of Kosmos 1410.

MetOp-B's older sister ship, MetOp-A, is known among amateurs for producing bright flares (up to mag. -2) when the solar panels reflect sunlight to the observer (see my video here). Hopefully MetOp-B will show this spectacular behaviour as well.

In addition to MetOp-B, the short observation window amidst the clouds also permitted to observe FIA Radar 2 (2012-014A).

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