The European Space Agency is ready to launch the first satellite that will measure wind speeds all over the globe. The satellite is called Aeolus, a reference to the keeper of the winds from Greek mythology.
Aeolus will deliver detailed maps of the winds on Earth to accurately predict the weather.
The launch was planned for 21 August, but it was postponed for other 24 hours because (ironically) the winds were too powerful at the Kourou launch site.
Aeolus is ready to be launched today at 9.20pm GMT. Soon after reaching the orbit, it will start analyzing the global wind speeds and improve weather forecasts. At the moment, all wind information comes from weather balloons and tracking of the airplanes’ ascent and descent. None of these methods compare with what Aeolus’ technology would soon provide.
The satellite cost Airbus Defence and Space €500m and has a sophisticated laser system – Aladin. The system will not only create vertical profiles of wind speeds from the surface of the Earth up into stratosphere at a 30km altitude, but it will also use a detector system to track deflections in ultraviolet laser light which is caused by air molecules and particles moving in the wind.
Aeolus will stay at a 320km distance from the surface of the planet to analyze and send detailed information on global patterns of wind behavior.
A 16-Year Long Project Finally Ready for Launch
ESA claims that Aeolus is the most advanced instrument to be sent into space. It took 16 years of designing and developing it, the project finally reaching the launch stage after many technical difficulties.
Aeolus will orbit the Earth in a “sun-synchronous” orbit, and its solar panels will face the Sun. All data gathered by the satellite will be downloaded as it crosses the poles.
“Wind patterns are very important for informing and improving the models we use for weather forecasting. Satellite technologies can provide information from parts of the world that are otherwise very difficult to access but play a major role in driving weather patterns. If Aeolus works as planned it could improve forecasts in tropical regions by 15 per cent,” concluded UK Met Office’s manager of the satellite winds group Mary Forsythe.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.