The European Space Agency (ESA) yesterday released the first animations using data from the first Meteosat Third Generation satellite which launched on December 13 last year. The satellite is the first instrument that can continuously detect lightning across Europe and Africa, according to the agency.
The satellite is the first of six satellites that is part of the full MTG (Meteosat Third Generation-Imager) that is designed to provide important data for the short-term and early detection of potential extreme weather events.
The “Lightning Imager” can detect rapid flashes of lightning in Earth’s atmosphere from a distance of 36,000 kilometres usings its four cameras that can cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and parts of South America. Each camera can capture up to 1,000 images per second and will continuously observe lightning activity from space.
The video below is a sequence of images that was created by collecting one minute worth of lightning measurements which were then overlaid over images of Earth.
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The data from this new satellite will give weather forecasters greater confidence while predicting severe storms, according to ESA. This will be particularly useful in forecasting storms in remote regions and on oceans where lightning detection capabilities are limited.
Apart from augmenting weather forecasts and making it easier for scientists to understand the consequences of such storms on climate change, the Lightning Imager will also play an important role in air traffic safety, since lightning poses a high risk to flights’ on-board instrumentation.