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Aeolus wind sensor satellite ready for shipment
Aeolus satellite. © Airbus

Aeolus wind sensor satellite ready for shipment

Aeolus, the European Space Agency’s wind sensing satellite, is ready to be shipped to the launch site in French Guiana.

Aeolus, the European Space Agency’s wind sensing satellite, is ready for to be shipped to the launch site. It will cross the Atlantic on the Airbus vessel “Ciudad de Cádiz" to Kourou, French Guiana, where a Vega launcher will send it to orbit on 21 August.

It is the first time Airbus will transport one of its satellites on-board its own vessel. Air transportation was considered too risky — the instrument is so sensitive that it could be damaged by a sudden loss of pressure.

The 1.33-tonne spacecraft, primed by Airbus, features the first ever space-borne LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) instrument called Aladin, which uses the Doppler effect to determine the wind speed at varying altitudes.

Aladin fires a powerful ultraviolet laser pulse down through the atmosphere and collects backscattered light, using a large 1.5m-diameter telescope, which is then analysed on-board by highly sensitive receivers to determine the Doppler shift of the signal from layers at different heights in the atmosphere.

The data from Aeolus will provide reliable wind-profile data on a global scale and is needed by meteorologists to further improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and by climatologists to better understand the global dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere.

Aeolus will orbit the Earth 15 times a day with data delivery to users within 120 minutes of the oldest measurement in each orbit. The orbit repeat cycle is 7 days (every 111 orbits) and the spacecraft will fly in a 320km orbit for three years.

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