Aeolus: on track

It’s been a week since ESA’s Aeolus wind satellite set sail from France for its launch site in French Guiana. With arrival expected to be 28 June, this latest Earth Explorer mission still has to spend another few days on the ocean waves.

At sea. (ESA)

The precious cargo is being accompanied by ESA’s Gilles Labruyère, who has worked on the mission for many years.

While internet connections are naturally somewhat limited in the middle of the Atlantic, Gilles has managed to report that all is well at sea. He has to adjust to strange day lengths, however, as the ship crosses time zones. And he seems to be getting star treatment from the captain.

Gilles said, “The other day was another 25 hours day. We changed time zone again. Yesterday, I had a complete visit of the ship with Captain, including the refrigerated rooms, hospital and bow thrusters.”

Soon after setting sail … nice sunset! (ESA)

The ship is well passed the Azores and everything seems to be pretty calm. Gilles checks on the satellite’s container regularly, “Temperature inside the container between 20°C and 21°C. Relative humidity is between 45 RH and 50 RH. Drop of pressure in the air bottles lower than 2 bars/day: Just perfect!”

Tracking Aeolus

The ship can be tracked with the Vessel finder.

Scheduled to liftoff on a Vega rocket on 21 August at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST) from Europe’s spaceport near Kourou, Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit.

Beautiful sky. (ESA)

This pioneering mission uses powerful laser technology that probes the lowermost 30 km of our atmosphere to yield vertical profiles of the wind and information on aerosols and clouds.

Read more about the Aeolus mission.

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