European Wind Survey Satellite Launched

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  • Europe put a satellite into orbit which will track global winds, allowing for improved weather forecasting,
  • The “Aeolus” satellite named after the guardian of wind in Greek mythology will be placed at an altitude of 320 kilometres (200 miles) above the Earth.
  • It is part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA) to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations.
  • Aeolus is equipped with a single instrument: a Doppler wind lidar an advanced laser system designed to accurately measure global wind patterns from space.
  • This mission will thus provide much-needed data to improve the quality of weather forecasting as well as contributing to long-term climate research.
  • It described the satellite as the world’s first space mission to acquire profiles of Earth’s wind on a global scale.
  • The Doppler lidar transmits short, powerful pulses of laser light toward Earth in the ultraviolet spectrum.
  • Particles in the air moisture, dust, gases scatter a small fraction of that light energy back to the transceiver, where it is collected and recorded.
  • The delay between the outgoing pulse and the so-called backscattered signal reveals the wind’s direction, speed and distance travelled.
  • Once per orbit, data is downloaded to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway.
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