Published on 15 April 2019
Assessing the accuracy of data being returned by completely new technology in space is a challenging task. But this is exactly what engineers and scientists have been dedicating their time to over the last months so that measurements of the world’s winds being gathered by Aeolus can be fed confidently into weather forecast models.
Carrying breakthrough laser technology, the Aeolus satellite – an ESA Earth Explorer mission – was launched in August 2018.
Its novel Aladin instrument, which comprises a powerful laser, a large telescope and a very sensitive receiver, measures the wind by emitting short, powerful pulses of ultraviolet light down into the atmosphere.
It is the first satellite mission to provide profiles of Earth’s wind globally. Its near-realtime observations will soon be made available to weather forecasters around the world. These observations are set to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts as well as advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and processes linked to climate variability.