The European Space Agency's Earth Explorer satellite will carry some of the most challenging technology ever put into orbit, including a novel Doppler wind light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor, a large telescope and sensitive receivers.
Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed as keeper of the winds by the gods, the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM) is slated for launch next year. The satellite carries a single instrument: a Doppler wind LiDAR called Aladin. The sophisticated instrument is designed to probe the lowermost 30 kilometers of the atmosphere along the satellite's orbital path. Comprising a powerful laser, a large telescope and a sensitive receiver, Aladin will be the first wind LiDAR in space.
In cloud-free air, the LiDAR sensor will probe the atmosphere down to Earth's surface or to the top of dense clouds. Data on wind will be ingested in weather models to improve forecasts. Improved weather forecasts have considerable socio-economic benefits, particularly for extreme weather events. For example, the better prediction of the strength and path of an evolving hurricane system is important for local emergency management.
Image courtesy of European Space Agency.