Published on 12 May 2020
Delivering new information about Earth’s winds, ESA’s Aeolus mission has already been hailed a success. Today, this remarkable satellite mission has yet again achieved new heights: its data are now being distributed publicly to forecasting services and scientific users in less than three hours of measurements being made from space.
Aeolus is one of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions, which all set out to demonstrate how new ways of observing Earth can advance our understanding of how the planet works as a system.
Carrying one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit, Aeolus is the first satellite mission to directly profile Earth’s winds from space.
Understanding Earth’s winds
It works by emitting short, powerful pulses of ultraviolet light from a laser and measures the Doppler shift from the very small amount of light that is scattered back to the instrument from molecules and particles to deliver vertical profiles that show the horizontal speed of the world’s winds in the lowermost 26 km of the atmosphere.