Minimize What is Aeolus?
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The Earth Explorer Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus 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.

Although there are several ways of measuring wind from a satellite, Aeolus will utilise the active Doppler Wind Lidars (DWL) method. This is the only method that has the potential to provide the required data globally, from direct wind observations. In addition, a DWL will provide information on cloud top heights, vertical distribution of cloud, aerosol properties, and wind variability. This information is a useful by-product of the DWL method.

An improved model of the Earth's climate and atmosphere will lead to progress in numerical weather prediction (NWP), especially concerning long-term forecasting. It is widely recognised that a new global atmospheric observing system, such as Aeolus, will have a great effect upon operational weather forecasting. The provision of detailed wind profiles will also benefit scientists involved with climate research, allowing for greater accuracy in the numerical modelling of tropical regions in particular.

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New portal for EVDC

22 August 2017

The ESA Atmospheric Validation Data Center (EVDC) has been migrated to a new portal with upgraded functionalities and new tools. The portal offers access to both Cal/Val data and Satellite products for specific missions. The user community is invited to exploit these new features and to contact the EVDC team for any further information.

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Wind satellite heads for final testing

30 January 2017

The road to realising ESA's Aeolus mission may have been long and bumpy, but developing novel space technology is, by its very nature, challenging. With the satellite now equipped with its revolutionary instrument, the path ahead is much smoother as it heads to France to begin the last round of tests before being shipped to the launch site at the end of the year.

Minimize Mission Details

Planned Launch Date: January 2018

Duration: 3 years in LEO orbit.

Mission objectives:

  • Provision of accurate wind profiles throughout the troposphere and lower stratosphere eliminating a major deficiency in the Global Observing System
  • Improve our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and the global atmospheric transport and cycling of energy, water, aerosols, chemicals and other airborne materials
  • Provision of data for the study of the global atmospheric circulation and related features, such as precipitation systems, the El Nino and the Southern Oscillation phenomena and stratospheric/tropospheric exchange.
  • Validate climate models through the use of high quality wind profiles from a global measurement system
  • Improve our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and the global atmospheric transport and cycling of energy, water, aerosols, chemicals and other airborne materials.
  • Generate a number of derived products such as cloud top altitudes, aerosol properties and tropospheric height.

Mission orbit:

  • Orbit: Sun-synchronous, dawn-dusk
  • Repeat Cycle: 7 days (111 orbits)
  • Inclination: 97°
  • Measurement altitude: 320 km


Satellite: cubic platform and cylindrical instrument structure, weighing 1400 kg (including 266 kg fuel).

Power: 1.4 kW deployable solar array (2x3 panels) with GaAs cells, 84 Ah Li-ion battery.


ALADIN (Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument), a direct detection Doppler wind lidar operated at 355nm, incorporating a fringe-imaging receiver (analysing aerosol and cloud backscatter) and a Double-edge receiver (analysing molecular backscatter). The laser will be operated with 60mJ of power.

Launch vehicle: Vega

Mission Control: ESA-ESOC (Germany)


Ground stations in Kiruna, Sweden (telemetry) and Svalbard, Norway (science data)

Data Processing Sites:

Tromso, Norway (L0-L1), ECMWF, UK (L1-L2b), ESA-ESRIN, Italy (L1-L2a and calibration and monitoring facility)

Data products:

  • L1b product (preliminary horizontally projected single line-of-sight wind profiles, calibration information etc) is available within 3 hours of sensing from ESA
  • L2a product (backscatter and extinction profiles and lidar ratio profiles) is available within 3 hours of sensing from ESA
  • L2b product (temperature and pressure corrected and quality controlled horizontally projected single line-of-site wind profiles) is available within 3 hours of sensing from ESA
  • L1-L2b processor is available from ECMWF
  • Auxiliary and calibration files for L1-L2b processing is available from ESA



The prime spacecraft contractor is Airbus Defence and Space (UK), (contract awarded in Oct. 2003).