At its 87th session, the EUMETSAT Council approved the extension of Jason-2 operations and contracts required to deploy the EPS Second Generation (EPS-SG) system in the early 2020’s and improve access to EUMETSAT and Copernicus data.
The Jason-2 high-precision ocean altimetry mission launched in 2008 and exploited in partnership with NOAA, NASA and CNES was extended for two years, from 1 January 2018 until the end of 2019, to complement Jason-3, operational since July 2016.
The Council also welcomed Ireland as the 16th Participating State in the Jason-CS Programme, the contribution of EUMETSAT to the cooperative Sentinel-6 mission expected to replace Jason-3 in 2021. The mission involves also ESA, the European Union and the United States through NASA and NOAA.
A key milestone towards the initial deployment of the EUMETSAT Polar System of Second Generation (EPS-SG) was passed with the award of contracts to Arianespace and Telespazio for the launch services and the Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) services for the first pair of Metop-SG satellites plus one spare satellite.
The first two Metop-SG satellites will be launched from Kourou by Soyuz, and the contract with Arianespace also offers EUMETSAT the possibility to use Ariane-62 for the third satellite.
To improve access to EUMETSAT and Copernicus data, the Council approved a contract to extend the EUMETCast-Africa data broadcasting service with higher bandwidth and arrangements with ECMWF and Mercator-Ocean for the deployment of a distributed Copernicus Data and Information Access Service (DIAS) platform on behalf of the European Union.