World’s first wind-mapping satellite set to launch

The European Space Agency have revealed data from its highly anticipated and awaited Aeolus mission, as it is all set to address the largest discrepancies in the global forecasting system.

After 20 years of planning and strategizing, the Aeolus mission is finally ready to launch a satellite from Kourou, French Guiana on 21st August, becoming the first to provide comprehensive wind monitoring services across the globe. Meteorologists believe that this will prove to be a ground-breaking innovation that will revolutionize weather forecasting by providing detailed measurements of the wind.

The Aeolus mission, worth €480-million, which equals to US$ 550 million, is designed to employ ultraviolet lasers to measure the speed and direction of the wind, in the lowermost 30 kilometres of the atmosphere. This is the first wind-mapping mission that will cover the entire world, and it will help people make better arrangements against storms and other natural disasters.

Challenges faced by the Aeolus Mission

The development of this satellite has encountered countless languages, the first being the difficulty of constructing a space-based laser that would generate 10 megawatts in every pulse. Moreover, the laser blasts began forming a thin layer of dark matter on the optical instruments of the system. Then, the engineers had to add some oxygen to shield the surface of the instrument against contamination.

Revelations

The laser of Aeolus is not capable of seeing through thick clouds, so it will not be able to penetrate stronger storm systems, like cyclones. However, it will succeed in tracking other natural calamities, like the dust blowing off Sahara desert, or the pollutants spreading towards various altitudes.

Wind Mapping Satellite

Photo Credit: nature.com

The experts believe that if Aeolus is successfully launched, the laser system will be activated in September, and the data will start arriving in January 2019, while the forecast systems will start piling in by April.

If this technology proves successful, it can aid in revolutionizing the industry with the advent of future wind-mapping satellites. Ad Stoffelen, an atmospheric physicist serving at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, is reported to have said,

We designed this thing in 1999, it’s extremely exciting to see it about to fly.

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