ESA’s Aeolus. A game-changer for forecasts?

#Wind, #ESA, #LIDAR

Published on 13 September 2018

The first wind data captured by the European Space Agency’s Aeolus wind sensor show the sensor is working as designed, a huge relief for program managers who struggled for more than a decade with the complex technology.

“The instrument, which was causing us all this headache, is working properly,” Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s director of Earth observation programs, said Sept. 13 at the World Satellite Business Week conference here.

ESA launched the 1,360-kilogram Aeolus Aug. 22 on Europe’s Vega rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. On Sept. 12, ESA released the first data on global winds captured by the satellite’s lidar instrument, which pairs a laser and large telescope with a sensitive receiver.

Aeolus laser emits 50 pulses per second of ultraviolet light through the atmosphere and measures how those signals are scattered by air molecules, dust particles and water droplets to create vertical profiles of global winds.

“Aeolus measures the largest data gap in meteorology, wind in cloud-free atmosphere,” Aschbacher said. “This type of information, where we had huge gaps in the past, is now filled with data.”

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