The European Space Agency is preparing to launch a new wind-sensing satellite into orbit later this month. Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus, built by Airbus Defence and Space, reportedly will be the first satellite capable of performing “global wind-component-profile observation” on a daily basis in near real-time.
The launch is scheduled for August 21. ESA this week been installing the satellite into the launch vehicle at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
The 1.4-metric ton spacecraft will orbit the Earth 15 times per day, delivering data to users within 120 minutes of the oldest measurement in each orbit. It will fly in a 320-km orbit, with an orbit repeat cycle of seven days (i.e., 111 orbits), and a service life of three years.
Aeolus will use a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) instrument called Aladin that uses the Doppler effect to determine wind speed at varying altitudes. Aeolus will be the first satellite capable of observing wind activities from the Earth surface up to 30 km into the stratosphere, and it will provide wind-profile data on a global scale for meteorologists to use to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, and by climatologists to understand better the dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere.