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Observation de la terre

Follow ESA's Earth observation missions as they are prepared for liftoff
  1. ESA’s Aeolus wind satellite is poised for liftoff from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This latest Earth Explorer satellite has been at the launch site since early July being readied for its ride into space on 21 August at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST). Aeolus was sealed from view in its Vega rocket fairing last week, after which it was rolled out to the launch pad, hoisted into the launch tower and joined to the rest of the rocket. ESA’s Gilles Labruyère said, “The umbilicals are connected. The charge of the battery can start. Apart from talking through cables, there are very few ways to touch Aeolus. The fairing has a small door, but no windows!” Read more about the Aeolus mission.    
  2. After being sealed within its Vega rocket fairing, Aeolus has been rolled out to the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Here it will join the rest of the rocket in the launch tower in preparation for liftoff on 21 August at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST). Read more about the Aeolus mission.
  3. As preparations for the launch of ESA’s latest Earth Explorer continue on track, the team at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana has bid farewell to the Aeolus satellite as it was sealed from view in its Vega rocket fairing – always an emotional moment for the team. Once encapsulated in the rocket faring, the team signed the fairing sticker … many wishes for a bon voyage and successful mission. The next major milestone on the road to launch will be the roll out to the launch pad and installation in the launch tower. Liftoff is set for 21 August at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST). Read more about the Aeolus mission.    
  4. Following the arrival of the MetOp-C at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at the end of June, the team has been busy testing and preparing the satellite for launch. While activities are currently running on schedule, they will put on hold in mid-August and resume in mid-September because the launch date has been moved from 20 September to 7 November. Nevertheless, almost a month into the campaign to launch MetOp-C, much has already been achieved. Since the satellite was shipped in three parts (the ‘service module’, the ‘payload module’ and the solar array), the two main bodies of the satellite have been reunited and tested. Over the last week or so, the team has been concentrating on adding the large solar array to the satellite structure. This is no mean feat as everything has to be aligned perfectly and then the tension has to be correct before being attached properly. The 40 m2 array, which weighs in at over 250 kg, will be gently deployed when MetOp-C is in orbit. This procedure takes around 15 minutes and happens in two stages: the solar array arm first rotates and then the large eight-section panel opens out to face the Sun. The MetOp satellites are big, in fact, after Envisat, they are the largest Earth-observation satellites built in Europe. With the alignment done and array attached, the MetOp-C is complete and the team is focusing on checking all the electrical connections. With the campaign soon breaking off for a month, the team will also be preparing the satellite for this dormant period. MetOp-C is the third polar-orbiting satellite in the Meteorological Operational satellite programme. This programme was jointly procured by ESA and Eumetsat, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. The series of MetOp satellites carry a host of sensitive […]
  5. With liftoff less than three weeks away, ESA’s Aeolus satellite has been fuelled and is almost ready to be sealed within its Vega rocket fairing. Getting a satellite ready to be launched involves a long list of jobs, some of which are trickier than others. Since hydrazine is extremely toxic, only specialists dressed in bulky astronaut-like suits remained in the cleanroom for the duration of the activity. Aeolus has been at Europe’s spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana, since early July where it has been tested and now being readied for liftoff on 21 August at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST). Now that Aeolus is fuelled, the next job on the list is to place it in the Vega rocket fairing. This pioneering mission is set to provide global wind-profile data, using 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. The mission will improve our understanding of how atmosphere dynamics work and contribute to climate change research. At the same time, it will also help to predict extreme events such as hurricanes and help us to better understand and model large-scale wind patterns driving weather such as El Niño. It is also expected to bring considerable benefits to society by improving weather forecasts. Its global wind measurements, delivered almost in real time, are exactly what meteorological centres are looking for to improve their forecasts. Read more about the Aeolus mission.