Met Office Space Programme
Space is an essential part of modern life with an increasing number of applications, particularly for meteorology. Satellites are a vital component of the Global Observing System (GOS) and their use has increased enormously in the recent past.
There is a well-established culture of cooperation and collaboration in international meteorology. This is pivotal for space-related meteorology. Satellites are crucial to the Met Office’s forecasting ability; however, the cost is prohibitive for many countries to develop without external funding. Due to the huge expense that satellite programmes represent, it is necessary to share costs. Additionally, satellite programmes require specialist technical knowledge and expertise to be shared across borders. To manage the costs and technical challenges presented by satellite programmes, the UK participates in two key intergovernmental organisations: the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The Met Office represents the UK at EUMETSAT and provides input to ESA through the UK Space Agency (UKSA).
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
EUMETSAT is a global operational satellite agency comprising of 30 member states. The main purpose of EUMETSAT is to deliver weather and climate-related satellite data, images and products to National Meteorology Services (NMS). EUMETSAT operates core programmes of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites and optional and third-party programmes in support of the EU Copernicus Programme. Policy lead for EUMETSAT and expert user representation rests with the Met Office, in consultation with UKSA and other appropriate stakeholders.
UK Space Agency (UKSA)
The UK Space Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Met Office is an active partner of UKSA with the Met Office and UKSA working together on areas of mutual interest and aiming to support each other in UK and international meetings. The UK is a founding member of ESA. UKSA represents the UK at ESA and coordinates the funding for the relevant ESA programmes.
European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA is a partnership of 22 European Member States. Its programmes are designed to find out more about the Earth, its immediate space environment, the Solar System and the Universe, as well as to develop satellite-based technologies and services, and to promote Europe industries. ESA assumes the role of procurement agency for Europe’s operational programmes based on the model that an ESA programme for the development of the first flight units traditionally complements each core EUMETSAT programme.