Aeolus heads for orbit. (ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
ESA’s Earth Explorer Aeolus satellite has been launched into polar orbit on a Vega rocket. Using revolutionary laser technology, Aeolus will measure winds around the globe and play a key role in our quest to better understand the workings of our atmosphere. Importantly, this novel mission will also improve weather forecasting.
Carrying the 1360 kg Aeolus satellite, the Vega rocket lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST, 18:20 local time) on 22 August.
Some 55 minutes later, Vega’s upper stage delivered Aeolus into orbit and contact was established through the Troll ground station in Antarctica at 00:30 CEST on 23 August.
Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed ‘keeper of the winds’ by the Gods, this novel mission is the fifth in the family of ESA’s Earth Explorers, which address the most urgent Earth-science questions of our time.
“Aeolus epitomises the essence of an Earth Explorer. It will fill a gap in our knowledge of how the planet functions and demonstrate how cutting-edge technology can be used in space,” said Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.
ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, added, “Aeolus carries ...