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British-built laser satellite Aeolus launches as it embarks on mission to change world's weather forecasts

Twenty four hours after the initial launch was cancelled because of the breeze, Europe's wind measuring satellite has finally been launched.

On board the solid fuel Vega rocket is Aeolus,a British-built satellite which hopes to change the way the world's weather is forecast.

Aeolus is fitted with an Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument, or Aladin for short.

Once in orbit it will shine laser beams through Earth's atmosphere.

  • Watch the satellite launch at the 17 minute mark below

By monitoring gas and dust particles moving around it will be able to measure wind speeds at different altitudes all around the globe.

Currently mapping global winds is based on patchy observations and computer models.

It's particularly tricky over oceans and areas of deserted land.

In its first week alone Aeolus will collect more wind data than has ever been recorded.

Once in orbit it will shine laser beams through Earth's atmosphere. Credit: ESA

That should make it easier to forecast where weather systems are going and give advanced warning of storms, floods and heat waves.

The £430 million satellite could also be a useful tool for climate change scientists.

"Wind is a fundamental component of the climate system," Bianca Perren from the British Antarctic Survey told me.

Her team are looking at the effects of climate change on polar ice.

The satellite and its team will make it easier to forecast the weather. Credit: ESA

In her words; "understanding what the wind does gives us a better indication of what will happen with (the) temperature (of the) Arctic Ocean."

With a fair wind Aeolus will orbit for three years.

It is the latest mission by the European Space Agency to help us learn more about our own planet.