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Old 28-08-2018, 10:48 AM
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Aeolus satellite measures wind speeds from space - replaces weather ballons

Weather prediction is set to get a whole lot better.

Originally Posted by Peter Fairley, IEEE Spectrum
It’s closing time for one of Earth observation’s most stubborn and critical data gaps: global wind speeds. A European Space Agency (ESA) satellite set for launch from French Guiana tomorrow [launched 22 Aug 2018] —after nearly two decades of challenging engineering and a weather delay—will be the first to directly measure wind speed and direction, from Earth’s surface to the stratosphere.

Winds are key determinants of weather and climate, yet most wind data still comes from weather balloons. Readings from commercial jets supplement the balloons’ twice-daily samplings, along with estimates inferred from satellites that track moving clouds, atmospheric temperatures, and sea-surface roughness. The result is a patchy wind record that adds uncertainty to weather forecasts.

The new satellite, named Aeolus, will improve on these measurements by deploying a wind-sensing lidar in space for the first time. It is essentially the same light-pulsing object-detection technology that helps police enforce speed limits and autonomous vehicles navigate roads. But instead of detecting motion by pinging a car with laser light and measuring the Doppler shift in the photons reflected back, Aeolus will ping molecules and aerosols in the air from 320 kilometers above Earth.

“It’s inherently difficult. The backscattered signal from the atmospheric constituents is quite weak, so you need a relatively large laser and a large telescope to gather enough photons,” explains Michael Hardesty, a lidar expert and senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, based in Boulder, Colo., a partnership of the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hardesty serves on ESA’s mission advisory group for Aeolus.
The satellite has been successfully launched and is orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes.

Full story here :-
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