CNES projects library

September 8, 2017


Launched in 2011, the Megha-Tropiques satellite has its instruments pointed at the turbulent atmosphere of the intertropical belt, where the most extreme weather phenomena on the planet are formed.

Unlike most other Earth-orbiting satellites, Megha-Tropiques doesn’t fly over the poles but over the tropics. This ingeniously conceived orbit means it is able, from its 867-km perch, to get a close view of the energy exchanges and water cycle in the intertropical belt, where giant convection cells form and a large portion of the water vapour in the atmosphere is found.

The satellite is thus helping to better understand and forecast extreme tropical weather events like cyclones, monsoons and droughts, which until now have received little attention. Megha-Tropiques’ regular and continuous measurements are proving vital to gain new insights into Earth’s climate and its evolution, as the extensive exchanges of energy going on in the intertropical zone affect the entire globe.

Since April 2015, the Meteo-France national weather service has started assimilating data from Megha-Tropiques’ SAPHIR instrument operationally and in near-real time into its ALADIN and ARPEGE numerical prediction models, as well as for forecasting cyclones on the island of Réunion.

Megha-Tropiques is also part of the constellation of 10 satellites participating in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission that NASA, JAXA, ISRO and CNES are pursuing together.