Lasers on the trail of the wind

31 August 2018

For the first time, the weather satellite Aeolus of the European Space Agency ESA shall capture wind information directly, and thus make weather forecasts more reliable. Its novel and high-performance laser system contains optics that were, among others, characterized by the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH).

The satellite carries the measuring instrument Aladin - Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument. With this, vertical wind profiles can be measured live for the first time. The instrument contains a pulsed UV laser with high pulse energy. Therefore, the integrated optics must be particularly robust in order to guarantee permanent operation during the three-year mission. All optics within the laser and the entire instrument were qualified for the mission by the German Aerospace Center DLR. The Laser Development Department of the LZH advised the DLR and contributed supporting measurements.

For the first time, Aeolus will be able to measure data on global wind fields in the atmosphere in a highly accurate and timely manner, thereby greatly improving the weather forecast.

More information about the Aeolus satellite on the website of the DLR