Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space to build instruments for next-generation weather forecasting satellite

• Airbus Defence and Space signs a €230m contract to supply the French Space Agency (CNES) with IASI-NG instruments for Europe‘s Meteorological Satellite Agency EUMETSAT’s future MetOp-SG satellites

• The numerical weather forecasting instruments will provide atmospheric temperature and humidity data with twice the accuracy of the previous generation

• Fourth contract in four months for Airbus Defence and Space for the supply of cutting-edge space equipment

18 October 2013 – Airbus Defence and Space, world’s second ranking space company, has been awarded a €230m contract as prime contractor for next-generation Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI-NG) instruments by the French Space Agency (CNES).

The IASI-NG instruments will form part of the state-of-the-art instrumentation carried by the MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) satellites, which constitute the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System Second Generation (EPS-SG). The prototype satellites are developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and will be operated by EUMETSAT, Europe’s Meteorological Satellite Agency.

“In the middle of July ESA entrusted us with the design and manufacture of the MWS (MicroWave Sounder) instruments for MetOp-SG, and today the CNES has charged us with the task of developing and building a new instrument for this pioneering meteorological mission,” said Airbus Defence and Space CEO Eric Béranger. “Along with the high-performance instrument for the EUCLID mission and the contract, won in an international competition, for the supply of an ocean imager to the Korean Space Agency, the Airbus Defence and Space teams working on space instruments have now scored four successes in as many months. This is yet more proof that Airbus Defence and Space’s know-how and expertise are backed up by extremely solid results on the commercial front.”

IASI-NG data is obtained from measurements taken with the aid of a Fourier-transform spectrometer, which is the interferometer’s core. Its principal mission is to scan the various layers of the atmosphere, from the bottom to the top, in order to provide extremely accurate data on temperature and humidity. This information is used in real time by weather forecasters, who will draw on the high performance of IASI-NG instruments (which offer twice the spectral and radiometric accuracy of the previous generation) to significantly improve the quality and reliability of their forecasts.

IASI-NG will also provide data on the concentrations of different gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon monoxide. This data is extremely valuable to scientists in the chemical analysis of the atmosphere, and in tracking this data they can monitor air pollution, the state of the ozone layer and the global effect of greenhouse gases in real time.

The main components of the IASI-NG instrument are as follows:

  • A mirror-sweeping system, which, in conjunction with the satellite’s orbit, allows complete coverage of the Earth;
  • Two ultra-light silicon carbide (SiC) telescopes for transmitting optical beams;
  • An interferometer based on an innovative concept that is the subject of an Airbus Defence and Space/CNES patent and that simultaneously allows data to be acquired and parasitic effects to be compensated for with great accuracy;
  • A detection unit stored at a cryogenic temperature (of around -200°C), enabling coverage of the infrared band of 3.6 to 15.5 microns at an optimum signal-to-noise ratio;
  • An on-board real-time data processing system for pre-processing the huge amount of data acquired prior to its transmission to the ground.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the second in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Airbus Defence and Space, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Airbus Defence and Space, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.

Press contacts

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                    Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41