The three IASI instruments will fly on the METOP satellite series. The first flight opportunity for IASI was METOP-A and was launched in 2006 by a Soyuz rocket. METOP-A is the first model of a series of polar orbiting satellites dedicated to the operational meteorology and climate monitoring from a synchronous orbit with a 9:30 equator local crossing time.
The meteorological core payload comprises, in addition to IASI, the following instruments:
- Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit: a microwave temperature sounder with 15 channels. The prime role of this instrument is to yield temperature sounding over completely overcast conditions and to help cloud detection for the companion infrared sounding instruments. The temperature sounding exploits the oxygen band at 50 GHz.
- Microwave Humidity Sounder: This five-channel instrument is sensitive to liquid water in clouds. It can also provide a qualitative estimate of the precipitation rate.
- High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder: a sounder with 19 channels in the infrared and 1 channel in the visible spectral range. It provides temperature and humidity profiles.
- Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer: a multispectral imager with 6 channels in the visible and infrared spectral ranges. The focus is on cloud parameters (distribution, top height, emissivity, etc.), sea surface temperatures and ice, snow and vegetation cover.
Some of the operational features of IASI such as the scan cycle will be synchronized with the companion meteorological payload to facilitate a synergic use of data from all instruments, which is essential to achieve the meteorological mission objectives.