Arianespace has successfully deployed the European Space Agency’s Aeolus wind satellite. Launched into a sun-synchronous orbit, the satellite will be utilised to measure global wind patterns allowing researchers to improve weather forecasting.
The three-stage Vega rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 21:20 UTC (18:20 local time) on Wednesday August 23, 2018. Around 54 minutes after the rocket lifted off, the Aeolus satellite separated from the Vega’s upper stage. Following successful separation, the European Space Agency’s official twitter account confirmed that the satellite’s solar arrays had been deployed successfully and that it was operating nominally under its own power.
Aeolus is the fifth European Space Agency (ESA) Earth Explore satellite and is aptly named after the mythological Greek character appointed as “keeper of the winds” by the gods. The 1,360-kilogram satellite will utilize “revolutionary laser technology” to measure global wind patterns. Scientists hope that in addition to improving weather forecasting, the data will help them to better understand the workings of our atmosphere.
“Aeolus epitomises the essence of an Earth Explorer,” said Jan Wörner, ESA Director General. “It will fill a gap in our knowledge of how the planet functions and demonstrate how cutting-edge technology can be used in space.”
The satellite was designed by Airbus Defence and Space and is expected to remain operational for approximately three years.