Understanding Earth’s winds

Aeolus mission overview

The central aim of the ADM-Aeolus mission is to further our knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere and weather systems. By recording and monitoring the weather in different parts of the world, ADM-Aeolus will allow scientists to build complex models of our environment, which can then be used to help predict how that environment will behave in the future. These predictions will be useful in the short-term, since they can be applied to Numerical Weather Prediction in order to make forecasts more accurate. The ADM-Aeolus mission will thus improve our knowledge of all sorts of weather phenomena, from global warming to the effects of pollution.

ADM-Aeolus will fly in a rather low Sun-synchronous orbit of 400 km and will always be in the dusk or dawn position. The wind will be measured at 90 degrees to the satellite ground track on the night side of the Earth.

The Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus will provide global observation of wind profiles from space. The main aim is to further our knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems.

The mission will provide global observations of wind profiles from space to improve the quality of weather forecasts and advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and climate processes.

By demonstrating new laser technology, Aeolus is seen as a pre-operational mission that will pave the way for future meteorological satellites to measure wind. Aeolus carries breakthrough technology in the form of an innovative instrument called Aladin – an atmospheric laser Doppler instrument. It uses ‘light scattering’ and the Doppler Effect to gather data on wind.

The satellite is designed to fly at an altitude of about 400 km in a Sun-synchronous dawn/dusk orbit. Data are sent to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, every orbit.

The data will then be processed into wind profiles and sent to various meteorological offices to be used in weather forecasts.

Aeolus Mission essentials
Launch 2015
Duration 3 years (plus 3-month commissioning)
Orbit Sun-synchronous
– altitude 408 km
– inclination 97º
Payload Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument ‘Aladin’ – a direct detection Doppler wind lidar
Laser transmitter, Mie & Rayleigh spectometers, 1.5 m telescope
Mass 1450 kg (including fuel)
Dimensions 4.60 ×1.9 × 2.0 m (launch configuration)
Prime contractor EADS Astrium UK (Astrium FR responsible for Aladin payload)
Launcher Vega, Rockot back up

Last update: 2 December 2013

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