Mission Aeolus

Aeolus, the ESA’s wind mapping satellite will be launched shortly. The real-time mapping of earth’s air pressure and other details will be possible when on 21st August, this satellite will take off from European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The much-anticipated launch is being prepared for a journey that will be memorable. The single satellite is all set for the sail and will be carrying a sophisticated atmospheric laser Doppler instrument, dubbed Aladin. This comprises two powerful lasers, receptors which are extremely sensitive, and a large telescope. The device will be one of the most advanced instruments that have been established into the orbit till date.

Several tests have been carried out to measure the strength of the satellite, along with a twelve-day long trip in which it had to cross the Atlantic Ocean from France to Kourou. It took sixteen years to plan, test and construct the spacecraft and generations of engineers and scientists were involved in its creation. Juan Pineiro, the manager for spacecraft operations, stated that the skill and dedication of several people have finally come to fruition. The ambition of launching Aeolus will be accomplished soon and so will its objectives. 

Weather predictions are challenging, and Aeolus aims at making this tough task a bit easy and accurate. It is the first-ever satellite to measure wind directly from space, located at a distance of some 30 km from earth’s surface. With improved forecasts, the satellite is a valuable addition to satellites observing the plant blue. The satellite will orbit the sun-synchronous orbit in a pole to pole motion and will pass over similar points at a fixed time. The dawn/dusk orbit followed by the satellite and will get energy from the sun, as it runs on solar energy.

ESA's European Space Operations Centre spent a lot of time to control the launch in every possible manner and make it a success. When a satellite is launched, it goes through several phases, one such phase when it is vulnerable, is when the satellite is not fully functional but is exposed to the hazards of the space.  During this time, there is a worry as well as excitement in the control room. Ground stations do their practice for such a time as it is quite challenging. Though Aeolus has a team of specialists to take care of its flight dynamics, the time is full of anxiety for everyone.