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Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM)-Aeolus Earth Observation Satellite, United Kingdom

Planned to be launched by the end of 2017, the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM) Aeolus satellite will provide global observations of three-dimensional wind fields, which will help ito improve weather forecasting. The satellite will be operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).

ADM-Aeolus will be put into the sun-synchronous dawn / dusk orbit located at an altitude of 408km. It is being developed under Earth Explorer Core mission as part of the ESA’s living planet programme.

ADM-Aeolus satellite design and features

Airbus Defence and Space (formerly known as EADS Astrium) was selected as the prime contractor to provide design, construction and testing services for the ADM-Aeolus satellite. The satellite is being developed at the Airbus Defence and Space facility located in Stevenage, UK.

The spacecraft will have a launch mass of 1,366kg and will feature cubic platform and cylindrical instrument structure. It will have external dimensions including length of 1.9m, width of 2.0m and height of 4.6m. It will have three-axis stabilisation of Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem (AOCS).

The spacecraft will include solar arrays, which can generate up to 2,200W of power that will be stored in 84Ah Li-ion batteries. The mission life of the spacecraft is expected to be three years.

The satellite will be fixed with a single payload called Atmospheric LAser Doppler Instrument (ALADIN), which includes two powerful lasers, a large telescope, and very sensitive receivers. The laser will generate ultraviolet light that will beam it towards Earth, and subsequently the fraction of light that will be scattered back towards the satellite, which will be gathered by Aladin’s telescope and measured.

ADM-Aeolus will explore and measure 120 wind profiles an hour and provide profiles of the wind on a global scale, along with information on aerosols and clouds. It will measure wind to an accuracy of 1m/s in the planetary boundary layer up to an altitude of 30km. It will also offer knowledge of atmospheric dynamics, which will help in the advancement of climate research.

The data provided by the spacecraft will be assimilated in numerical forecasting models, which will enhance the quality of operational short- and medium-range predictions. The objective of the mission is to provide global observations of wind profiles with a vertical resolution that will meet the accuracy requirements of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

ADM-Aeolus satellite launch vehicle details

Arianespace was contracted to provide launch services for the ADM-Aeolus satellite in September 2016. The satellite will be launched a top the Vega light launch vehicle, which can carry satellites ranging between 300kg and 1,500kg in Earth observation missions to polar and low Earth orbits. The rocket will put the satellite in its orbit after a four-stage launch.

The launch will be carried out at the Guiana Space Centre located in Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Ground station details of the ADM-Aeolus satellite

The data collected from the ADM-Aeolus satellite will be sent to SvalSat receiving station located in Norway, which will then be processed into wind profiles and the meteorological offices will use it in weather forecasting.

The satellite will have European space operations centres located in Germany and Sweden. The European space research institute will be situated in Italy, while the European centre for medium-range weather forecasts will be located in the UK.