Rights: University of Waikato. All Rights Reserved. Published 27 March 2013 Download

Name: MTSAT-2 (Multi-functional Transport Satellite)

Satellite number: 28937

Owner: Japan

Mission: Earth science, weather, communications, navigation

Launch date: 2006

Type of orbit: geostationary high-Earth orbit

Period: 24 hours

Perigee: 35,777 km

Apogee: 35,797 km


Dr Allan McInnes

Weather satellites are, I guess, one of the earliest applications of satellites after communications. The very first satellites were communications satellites. Weather came along afterwards when people said, “Hey, it would be really great if we were a long way above the Earth and could see a lot of it and could see weather patterns developing.”

So weather satellites will be – usually they’re a little bit smaller than a communications satellite, maybe 3, 4 metres on its side, 3 tonnes something like that. Typically what they’re going to be doing is carrying a payload of visible and infrared sensors – so basically cameras that are looking at the Earth either seeing visible light – the stuff that you and I see on a day-to-day basis – or infrared, which lets them see how the temperature of clouds and the ocean and the air is changing, and obviously those temperatures have some effect on how weathers can develop. Then that information will go to meteorologists on the ground who can figure out by looking at the data what the weather’s going to do or at least where the clouds are.