Observation Networks

Introduction to Satellite Observation Networks

Satellite observation networks provide invaluable data on the climate and the layered atmosphere.  Space satellite data is a key input to assess the feasibility and operational integrity of renewable energy power systems.

Space observation networks are controlled by international meteorological and military organizations, which have launched a number of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites. These satellites transmit data via a radio carrier at microwave frequencies between 1680-1720MHz. The data from these satellites is available to anyone who has the proper equipment to receive, interpret and display the data.  Alternatively, archived data can be downloaded from servers at data processing facilities dedicated to the different satellite missions.


EUMETSATNational meteorological services for EU member staters jointly operate a fleet of satellites in geostationary and polar orbit to provide Earth observations and data for weather, climate and environmental conditions.  EUMETSAT has two primary programs: Meteosat and Metop.

The Meteosat-8, -9 and -10 satellites are second generation satellites that operate over Europe and Africa.  Meteosat-7, a first generation observation satellite, operates over the Indian Ocean. Meteosat-10 is the latest geostationary satellite, positioned at 0 degrees, and providing full disc imagery every 15 minutes. Meteosat-9 has the Rapid Scanning Service, delivering images every 5 minutes. The Metop satellites fly in low polar orbits and provide full disc observations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents.

Network observation data is made available in several forms: EUMETCast, direct dissemination/readout, the Global Telecommunication System (GTS), and internet FTP.
1. Home Page
2. Search Documentation
3. Data: Aerosols
4. Data: Atmosphere
5. Data: Clouds
6. Data: Dust
7. Data: Humidity
8. Data: Land and Vegetation
9. Data: Pressure
10. Data: Radiation
11. Data: Temperature
11. Data: Wind


LSA-SAFlogoThe Satellite Application Facility for Land Surface Analysis (LSA SAF) works to increase the practical benefits derived from EUMETSAT satellite data.  LSA-SAF provides data for numerical weather modeling for application in a range of commercial activities. Facility functions include R&D, sensor-to-archive services, model data generation, and dissemination.  
1. Home Page
2. Data: Fraction of Vegetation Cover
3. Data: Land Surface Temperature
3. Data: Downwelling Surface Radiation Fluxes
4. Data: Albedo
5. Data: Snow Cover


CM-SAFlogoThe Satellite Application Facility for Climate Monitoring (CM-SAF) produces data-base products for climate monitoring. Climate data are long-term time series, updated on a near real-time basis,  to assess inter-annual variability.   The CM-SAF products include key parameters for the energy & water cycle.
1. Home Page
2. Product Overview
3. Data: Clouds
4. Data: Water Vapor and Temperature
5. Data: Surface Radiation
6. Data: Top of Atmosphere Radiation

7. Data: Total Incoming and Total Reflected Radiation


NOAAlogoThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages a  constellation of meteorological spacecrafts in geostationary and polar orbits. NOAA satellites belong to three operational programs:

  • the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP),
  • the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program (GOES), and
  • the Polar Operational Environmental Satellite Program (POES).

The U.S. Department of Defense also operates the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).  Both NOAA and DMSP data is archived by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which distributes the data under the Shared Processing Program. NCDC archives are accessed using the Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS), an electronic library of data.  The data links below require log-in processing.
1. CLASS Home Page
2. CLASS Data Search
3. CLASS Data By Satellite
4. Data: CFS Reanalysis Data
5. Data: GOES Surface and Insolation Products
6. Data: NCEP Weather Analyses and Forecast Charts

 NASA Earth Observation System (EOS)

NASAlogoThe Earth Observing System (EOS) is a program of NASA comprising a series of artificial satellite missions and scientific instruments in Earth orbit designed for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphereatmosphere, and oceans.    The EOS network currently has 23 active satellite missions.  The data links below are just a sample of the mission portals available at EOS.
1. EOS Home Page

MODIS Atmosphere
The Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is a payload scientific instrument on board the Terra Satellite (1999), and the Aqua satellite (2002). The instruments capture data in 36 spectral bands and image the entire Earth every 1 to 2 days. They measurements on changes in Earth’s cloud cover, radiation budget, as well as processes occurring in the oceans, on land, and in the lower atmosphere.
1. Home Page
2. MODIS Mission Brochure
3. Product: Aerosols
4. Product: Water Vapor
5. Product: Atmosphere Profile
6. Product: Cloud Mask
7. Data Portal: LAADS
8. Data Portal: ECHO Reverb

MODIS Rapid Response
The Rapid Response service provides imagery that shows the Earth as it appears “right now.”  The imagery is generally available within three hours of observation.
1. Home Page
2. World View

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