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ESA Plans To Study Earth’s Winds With Space Lasers

First Posted: Aug 09, 2016 05:56 AM EDT
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The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to use beaming lasers from space to learn more about Earth's wind according to reports. The agency wants to use the Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument (Aladin), a long awaited apparatus, to join its satellite in space to monitor the winds that blow around our world.

According to ESA, Aladin will be sent to the ADM-Aeouls satellite by the end of 2016, to send back wind measurements and data about clouds and aerosols back to our planet in approximately real time. The instrument comprises of a big telescope, two strong lasers and extremely sensitive receivers which have been designed by France's Airbus Defense and Space.

Aladin's laser will beam ultraviolet light projected towards our planet, which will bounce off small particles and air molecules in the atmosphere, comprising of droplets of water, ice and dust that will enable the instrument's telescope to monitor the amount of light which is sent back toward the satellite. The information gathered by Airbus will reportedly lead to advanced weather forecasts.

"This is very good news for the meteorologists and scientists who have been waiting some time for Aladin data to improve weather forecasting," said Frederic Fabre, Aladin Project Manager. According to ESA, Aladin is "one of the trickiest pieces of space technology ever developed." The optics of the apparatus was created keeping in mind the fact that it needs to bear high-intensity laser pulses for a minimum of three years in the unfriendly and harsh space environment, and the development of such optics designed for handling extremities took a long time than actually estimated.

However, Aladin has nearly reached its fully developed mode and once it joins its satellite, the instrument will be able to add deeper insight into wind observations, something that is not available currently. The observations that Aladin will facilitate will have a huge effect on weather forecasting.

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