ESA’s Aeolus wind satellite is lofted into orbit on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The Vega rocket is 30 m high, topped by the Attitude Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) fourth stage. The rocket’s fairing, which cocoons Aeolus during liftoff and ascent, is eight metres long.
ESA’s Aeolus satellite uses powerful laser technology that probes the lowermost 30 km of our atmosphere to yield vertical profiles of the wind as well as information on aerosols and clouds. This will not only improve our understanding of how the atmosphere works and contribute to climate change research, but will also help to predict extreme events such as hurricanes and El Niño. While Aeolus is set to advance science, it will also bring considerable benefits to society by improving weather forecasts.