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. Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit: Aladin, with two powerful lasers, a large telescope and very sensitive receivers. It shoots pulses of ultraviolet light down into the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds. This is a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space, which usually involves tracking cloud movement, measuring the roughness of the sea surface or inferring wind from temperature readings. Read more