A European satellite, which will be the first to directly measure wind speeds and directions around the world, has taken off from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on board a Vega rocket.
The liftoff had been postponed by 24 hours due to bad weather, the launch company Arianespace had said.
The satellite was named Aeolus after the keeper of the winds in Greek mythology.
It’s equipped with a surveying method called a lidar – that uses pulses of light to detect the movement of tiny particles in the air.
The data can be used to calculate wind speeds by observing waves and clouds from planes or space.
By comparing the wavelength of the light when it goes out to the wavelength when it returns, scientists can calculate which way the air is moving.
The process – known as the Doppler effect – is familiar to most people from the way the sound of an ambulance changes whether it’s moving toward or away from the listener.
The European Space Agency says real-time wind measurements will make weather and climate predictions more accurate.