Aeolus is the first space mission to acquire profiles of the wind on a global scale. These near-realtime observations will improve the accuracy of numerical weather and climate prediction and advance our understanding of tropical dynamics and processes relevant to climate variability.
Many aspects of our lives are influenced by the weather. It goes without saying that accurate forecasts are important for commercial undertakings such as farming, fishing, construction and transport – and in general make it easier to plan the days ahead.
In extreme circumstances, knowing what the weather will bring can also help save lives and protect property.
Although weather forecasts have advanced considerably in recent years, meteorologists urgently need reliable wind-profile data to improve accuracy further.
ESA’s Aeolus wind mission will demonstrate that measuring global wind-profiles from space, using laser technology, can meet this requirement.
Aeolus is the fifth in the family of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions, which address key scientific challenges identified by the science community and demonstrate breakthrough technology in observing techniques.
Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed ‘keeper of the winds’ by the Gods, this novel mission will not only provide much-needed data to improve the quality of weather forecasts, but also contribute to long-term climate research.
The Aeolus satellite carries just one large instrument – a laser Doppler wind lidar called Aladin that will probe the lowermost 30 km of the atmosphere to measure the winds sweeping around our planet.