New satellite will bounce ultraviolet light off air to measure winds

  • New satellite will bounce ultraviolet light off air to measure winds

New satellite will bounce ultraviolet light off air to measure winds

A laser satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage has been launched into space.

The satellite is equipped with a single instrument: a Doppler wind lidar - an advanced laser system created to accurately measure global wind patterns from space.

James Cotton, a satellite winds scientist at the Met Office, said: The Aeolus mission aims to improve the global coverage of wind profile observations, including areas where in situ wind measurements are now lacking, such as over the oceans, in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere.

The satellite, launched on a European Space Agency Aeolus spacecraft and equipped with a 3.4 kW laser, will be used to measure wind speeds. The first of its kind, it includes revolutionary laser technology to generate pulses of ultraviolet light that are beamed down into the atmosphere to profile the world's winds - a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space.

Scientists will use this data to predict the weather in the hopes of revolutionising weather forecasting methods.

Aeolus is named after the ancient Greek character Aeolus - the Keeper of the Winds.

It will collect data from areas without ground-based weather stations, such as in remote regions on land or at sea.

Aeolus will deploy a wind-sensing lidar in space for the first time. Scientists will use the light to measure how quickly gas and dust molecules are moving at different heights, a reliable indicator of...

The primary objective Aelous has is to provide accurate readings on winds speed and patterns for scientists to come up with precise weather and climate predictions to help authorities and people better prepare for natural disasters such as floods or hurricanes, among others.

'Filling a gap' Two years ago, Aladin's project manager Frederic Fabre told optics.org that such is the power of the instrument that it will provide more wind data than all current ground-based systems put together.

The satellite launch, aboard a Vega rocket, initially scheduled for August 21st, got delayed for 24 hours, ironically, "due to winds at altitude", as ESA argued. "We look forward to it living up to expectations". But this is a trail mission that would eventually be lost in the space or say, hurtled towards the atmosphere thereby destroying itself once it comes near the end of its life.