Laser Satellite Built In The UK Takes Off Tonight To Study Earth’s Atmosphere

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Tonight at 21:20 UTC, from the ESA’s Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, the UK-built laser satellite dubbed as Aeolus will take off with the mission of studying Earth’s atmosphere. The Aeolus satellite, operated by the ESA, will explore wind patterns to give more precise readings for several purposes, from better weather forecasts to exact mappings of tropical currents.

The satellite launch, aboard a Vega rocket, initially scheduled for August 21st, got delayed for 24 hours, ironically, “due to winds at altitude,” as ESA argued. However, the weather looks good today, so we might finally see the launch of the UK-built laser satellite, baptized Aeolus by the European Space Agency.

Constructed by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, Aeolus satellite will boast a 3.4-Kilowatt laser which will be beamed towards the atmosphere to measure wind speeds and patterns from an altitude of about 200 kilometers above the Earth.

The laser satellite built in the UK and operated by the ESA, Aeolus, would provide wind readings for better weather forecast and climate predictions

The primary purpose Aelous has is to provide accurate readings on winds speed and patterns for scientists to come up with precise weather and climate predictions to help authorities and people better prepare for natural disasters such as floods or hurricanes, among others.

The technology installed on this UK-built laser satellite, which is called Doppler LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), exploits the laser pulses method to determine the motions of the tiny particles in the Earth’s atmosphere to identify winds patterns.

“The Aeolus mission is a great example of the potential real-world impacts that space can have on Earth. Its data will lead to more reliable weather forecasts that can be used by farmers, seafarers, construction workers and others to improve productivity and safety,” stated the UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah.

The launch of the ESA’s Aeolus mission, the UK-built laser satellite, can be watched live on the European Space Agency’s site.

Stacy Richardson

Stacy Richardson is a seasoned journalist with 15 years experience.. She has conducted numerous research studies on media effects including the effects of bullying on adolescents, and “sexy media” effects on sexual behavior.  As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Stacy covers stories affecting local politics and economy. Contact Stacy here.