European wind-tracker satellite to sharpen weather forecasts
Europe plans to launch a satellite on Wednesday that will use new laser technology to measure the winds sweeping across Earth and help scientists forecast changes in weather more accurately.
The Aeolus mission will provide scientists with data on winds in remote areas, such as over oceans, that they have not been able to get from weather balloons, ground stations and airplanes but which are crucial to predicting changes in weather.
Aeolus will be equipped with an instrument dubbed Aladin, short for Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument, that will use a powerful laser, a large telescope and a very sensitive receiver to probe the atmosphere.
The laser system is designed to generate a series of short light pulses in the ultraviolet spectrum, which is invisible to the naked eye, and then collect light that is backscattered from particles of gas and dust and droplets of water in the atmosphere.