See the first image of Earth from a new weather-monitoring satellite

A recently launched weather satellite has sent back its first image of Earth, showing our planet in gorgeous detail. The European Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 was launched in December of last year with the aim of monitoring weather conditions across Europe and Africa, and it took this image from its location 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The image was taken using the high-resolution Flexible Combined Imager instrument in March 2023, showing the areas of cloud and clear skies that can be seen over the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the European and African land masses.

First image of the full Earth disc from the Meteosat Third Generation Imager. The first image from Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) reveals a level of detail about the weather over Europe and Africa not previously possible from 36 000 km above Earth. The higher-resolution images provided by the instruments on board give weather forecasters more information about the clouds cloaking much of Europe and visible in the equatorial region of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. Sand and sediment in the waters off Italy are also visible, as well as dust or smog being carried from south Asia. This degree of detail is not possible from the instruments on the Meteosat Second Generation satellites. The image was captured at 11:50 UTC on 18 March 2023 by the Flexible Combined Imager on MTG-I1.
The first image from the Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 reveals a level of detail about the weather over Europe and Africa not previously possible from 22,000 miles above Earth.  EUMETSAT/ESA

The instruments on the Meteosat (MTG) are of a higher resolution than previous tools, as it is the first of a new generation of European weather satellites. This higher resolution allows weather features like clouds to be tracked more accurately, while also offering a view of how weather systems move across this part of the globe.

That will help with weather forecasting and dealing with extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, according to the MTG team. “This remarkable image gives us great confidence in our expectation that the MTG system will herald a new era in the forecasting of severe weather events,” said Phil Evans, director general of the European weather-monitoring satellite agency Eumetsat, in a statement.

“It might sound odd to be so excited about a cloudy day in most of Europe. But the level of detail seen for the clouds in this image is extraordinarily important to weather forecasters. That additional detail from the higher-resolution imagery, coupled with the fact that images will be produced more frequently, means forecasters will be able to more accurately and rapidly detect and predict severe weather events,” the team said.

The team says that data from the satellite will also help international weather forecasting and climate change monitoring. “The high-resolution and frequent repeat cycle of the Flexible Combined Imager will greatly help the World Meteorological Organization community to improve forecasts of severe weather, long-term climate monitoring, marine applications, agricultural meteorology, and will make an important contribution to the Early Warnings For All Initiative, in particular on the African continent,” said Natalia Donoho of the World Meteorological Organization.

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