Wind-sensing satellite undergoes final checks

February 12th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) wind sensing spacecraft, Aeolus, will be the first satellite capable of performing global wind-component-profile observation on a daily basis in near real-time. Aeolus has left Liège in Belgium having successfully completed extensive thermal and functional performance testing. It will now undergo final checks at InteSpace test centre in France, before being shipped to French Guiana for launch in mid-2018. The 1,4-tonne spacecraft, primed by Airbus, features the lidar (light detection and ranging) instrument called Aladin, which uses the Doppler effect to determine the wind speed at varying altitudes. It fires a powerful ultraviolet laser pulse down through the atmosphere and collects backscattered light, using a large 1,5 m 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. The satellite 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.

Contact Corné Eloff, Airbus Defence and Space, Tel 011 266-2614, corne.eloff@airbus.com