Airbus Defence and Space

The wind watcher awakes

Aeolus observation mission

Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for the European Space Agency (ESA) Aeolus mission, which will further the understanding of Earth’s weather systems by providing detailed global observation of winds from space.

Having been carefully stored on site at Airbus Defence and Space’s Stevenage since completion in 2010, the Aeolus satellite platform has been aroused from its slumber in preparation for an important test campaign which is about to commence.

Aeolus is one of ESA’s ground-breaking Earth Explorer programmes and carries a pioneering Airbus Defence and Space-developed instrument called Aladin (Atmospheric LAser Doppler INstrument) that uses laser light scattering and the Doppler effect to acquire profiles of the wind on a global scale. Reliable and timely wind profiles are urgently needed by meteorologists to improve weather forecasts. In the long term, they will also contribute to climate research.

After a ‘wake-up’ of the platform, including various system checks, the platform and associated support equipment was transferred to Airbus Defence and Space’s Intespace test centre in Toulouse, France.

The platform will now be mated with a flight representative model of the complex 460 kg Aladin instrument and then complete a micro-vibration test to measure the disturbances within the critical instrument elements. Once this test is completed a team from Arianespace/VEGA will arrive in mid-August to perform a launcher fairing release shock test. The campaign will then be concluded by system level electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) tests before the platform returns to Stevenage.

The mission is named after the mortal in Greek legend appointed by the gods as keeper of the winds.

AeolusEarth ObservationEnvironmentMeteorologyClimate