Young scientists bid farewell to ESA's wind mission

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Published on 18 July 2023

Students and early career researchers are saying an emotional goodbye to Aeolus ahead of its upcoming reentry.

Since 2017, the pioneering satellite has helped a growing community of budding scientists achieve ambitious research objectives and, thanks to the ongoing improvement and dissemination of Aeolus data, this is set to continue long after the mission comes to an end.

As the mission edges back towards the planet, Earth Online is taking the opportunity to revisit some inspiring examples of how Aeolus shaped novel investigations into the atmosphere – and the careers of the researchers who completed them.

Students build confidence in Aeolus data

Key to the success of Aeolus is a well-coordinated validation and calibration strategy that ensures the delivery of high-quality data to the community.

An important part of these activities, the Joint Aeolus Tropical Atlantic Campaign (JATAC) – which took place in Cabo Verde and the US Virgin Islands in 2021 and 2022 – was supported by a number of scientists in the early stages of their careers.

Lidar system deployed as part of JATAC

Lidar system deployed as part of JATAC

Ioanna Tsikoudi, a PhD student based at the National Observatory of Athens, participated in the ASKOS element of JATAC, which provided in-situ airborne dust observations over Cabo Verde.

In addition, Aeolus data were instrumental in Tsikoudi's research into the planetary boundary layer, which she has presented on at several international conferences.

Tsikoudi says, "Overall, Aeolus paved the way for me to meet great researchers, use valuable data for my studies, find new collaborations and of course travel to Cabo Verde and Rhodes, chasing wind and dust stories.

"So long Aeolus – and thank you for the wonderful experiences."

Peristera Paschou, a PhD student also based at the National Observatory of Athens, worked on a novel lidar system that was deployed as part of ASKOS.

She says, "My trip to Cabo Verde belongs in the highlights of my career, giving me the opportunity to collaborate with top-level scientists and solve challenges in the field. This greatly benefited my studies by providing me with constructive feedback on my early results as a PhD student.

"Following the campaign, I had the opportunity to attend conferences to present my findings, which further enhanced my career and research into the validation of Aeolus products."

Boosting weather prediction in Japan

Tropical cyclones pose a significant threat to people's safety and key economic activities in Japan, so improving projections of these weather systems is an important area of focus for the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

Izumi Okabe began her career as a scientist at JMA's Meteorological Research Institute three years ago and has risen quickly to the position of senior researcher.

Building on previous improvements of weather prediction models using Aeolus, Okabe led a recent study to assess the impact of the mission's data on tropical cyclone projections.

She says, "The results clearly underscored the importance of Aeolus data, giving me the opportunity to travel to numerous workshops to present our findings, gain valuable insights, and connect with like-minded researchers. These experiences were very valuable and, thanks to the research using Aeolus data, I was promoted to senior researcher at the Meteorological Research Institute.

"As the mission's reentry approaches, I sincerely appreciate Aeolus for providing such substantial benefits to my professional growth."

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