Aeolus is fueled in preparation for Arianespace’s Vega launch of this climate-monitoring satellite
Europe’s satellite for the first space mission to profile the wind on a global scale has taken a major step closer to its Vega launch by Arianespace this month with the spacecraft’s fueling at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The Aeolus spacecraft was “topped off” during activity in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation building. The next step will be Aeolus’ encapsulation in the fairing that is to protect the satellite during Vega’s climb-out through the atmosphere’s denser layers.
Aeolus will be lofted on Arianespace’s Flight VV12, signifying the 12th mission with the company’s light-lift Vega. Its scheduled liftoff on August 21 will be performed from the Spaceport’s Vega Launch Complex, with the launcher provided to Arianespace by production prime contractor ELV.
The satellite will provide much-needed data to improve the quality of weather forecasts and contribute to long-term climate research. It was built by Airbus and carries a single instrument – a laser Doppler wind LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system called Aladin, which is to probe the lowermost 30 km. of the atmosphere to measure winds around the Earth.
A powerful laser for Aeolus’ wind measurements
Aladin fires a powerful ultraviolet laser pulse down through the atmosphere and collects backscattered light using a large 1.5-meter-diameter telescope. The data is analyzed on board by highly sensitive receivers to determine the Doppler shift of the signal from layers at different heights in the atmosphere.
The LIDAR’s near-real-time observations will provide reliable wind-profile data to meteorologists, enabling them to further improve the accuracy of numerical weather and climate prediction, and advance the understanding of tropical dynamics and processes relevant to climate variability.
Managed by the European Space Agency (ESA), Aeolus is the fifth in the family of its Earth Explorer missions, which address key scientific challenges identified by the science community and demonstrate breakthrough technology in observing techniques.