ADM-Aeolus (Atmospheric Dynamics Mission)
The ADM-Aeolus mission will provide global observations of wind profiles from space to improve the quality of weather forecasts, and to advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and climate processes.
ESA's wind mission
(JPG, 5.4 Mb)
Artist's impression of the Aeolus satellite.
Credit: ESA/AOES Medialab.
- In development
- Due for launch in February 2014
Temperature, pressure, humidity and wind are the basic variables that describe the state of the atmosphere. Accurate global observations on wind speed and direction are currently needed to enhance atmospheric modelling so that operational weather forecasting, as well as the prediction of long-term climate change, can be improved.
Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed ‘keeper of the winds’ by the Gods, ADM-Aeolus will be the first-ever satellite to directly observe wind profiles from space. The central aim of the mission is to further our knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere and weather systems by recording and monitoring the weather in different parts of the world. ADM-Aeolus will allow scientists to build complex models of our environment, which can then be used to help predict how that environment will behave in the future. These predictions will be useful in order to make forecasts more accurate.
ADM-Aeolus is part of the Earth Explorer mission being developed within ESA’s Living Planet Programme. Earth Explorer satellites provide a unique approach to observing Earth from space. They have been developed in direct response to issues raised by the scientific community, to improve our understanding of how the ‘Earth system’ works and the effect that human activity is having on natural processes.
ADM-Aeolus will fly in a low Sun-synchronous orbit of 400 km and will always be in the dusk or dawn position. The wind will be measured at 90 degrees to the satellite ground track on the night side of the Earth.
It is predicted that Aeolus will be the forerunner of a series of similar operational meteorological satellites in the future. Two ground stations will be set up at Kiruna in Sweden and Barrow in Alsaska to receive data.
ADM-Aeolus will carry a continuously operated Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument (ALADIN). ALADIN will be the first wind lidar to be launched into space and will emit short and high energy pulses towards the atmosphere and analyses the Doppler shift of the backscattered signal for each altitude.
To observe wind profiles from space, ADM-Aeolus will utilise the active Doppler Wind Lidars (DWL) method as this is the only method that has the potential to provide the required data globally. In addition, a DWL will provide information on cloud top heights, vertical distribution of cloud, aerosol properties, and wind variability.
The prime contractor will be Astrium UK with Astrium France responsible for the payload (ALADIN). As prime contractor, Astrium UK is responsible for the satellite platform including the electrical, thermal and propulsion systems, the Attitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS) and the overall integration of the satellite.
For further news about ADM-Aeolus, visit ESA's website.