First ever satellite able to perform global wind component profile observation
ESA’s Aeolus will provide measurements on a daily basis in near real-time to
improve the accuracy of weather forecasts.
Toulouse, 05/06/2018 - Aeolus, the European Space Agency’s wind sensing satellite, is now
ready for its upcoming launch. It will be shipped across the Atlantic on the Airbus vessel
“Ciudad de Cádiz" to Kourou, French Guiana, where a Vega launcher will send it to orbit on
21 August. The instrument is so sensitive that it could be damaged by a sudden loss of
pressure. For this reason, air transportation has to be avoided and for the first time Airbus
will transport one of its satellites on-board its own vessel.
The 1.33-tonne spacecraft, primed by Airbus, features the first ever space-borne LIDAR
(LIght Detection And Ranging) instrument called Aladin, which uses the Doppler effect to
determine the wind speed at varying altitudes.
Aladin fires a powerful ultraviolet laser pulse down through the atmosphere and collects
backscattered light, using a large 1.5m diameter telescope, which is then analysed on-board
by highly sensitive receivers to determine the Doppler shift of the signal from layers at
different heights in the atmosphere.
“Aeolus is a world first with break-through technology that will make a huge contribution to
weather forecasting on a global scale. Pioneering a LIDAR instrument in Space is quite a
challenge – but a great example of what Europeans can achieve when we work together!”,
said Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems at Airbus.
The data from Aeolus will provide reliable wind-profile data on a global scale and is needed
by meteorologists to further improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and by climatologists
to better understand the global dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere.
Aeolus will orbit the Earth 15 times a day with data delivery to users within 120 minutes of
the oldest measurement in each orbit. The orbit repeat cycle is 7 days (every 111 orbits) and
the spacecraft will fly in a 320 km orbit for three years.
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated revenues of € 67 billion and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.
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