The European Space Agency’s AEOLUS – Earth Explorer Atmospheric Dynamics Mission for wind profile monitoring is in trouble as its main wind measurement instrument using Lidar has a fault with its laser.

Artist’s impression of ADM-Aeolus in orbit. Courtesy: ESA

The laser is now degrading at a rate of 1 milli-joule per week and has already lost half its power. Engineers plan to switch Aeolus to its back-up light source in June hoping that this makes a difference. If this fix does not work it will end the mission earlier than its three year planned lifespan.