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A new weather forecasting satellite
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a Project Manager at Astrium, explains current weather satellites can only see the tops of the clouds. The satellite she's now building, Aeolus, will be able to measure wind speeds all the way down through the cloud layers using pulses of laser light. This will improve the accuracy of forecasts, allowing better prediction of freak events such as hurricanes and therefore saving lives. Spacecraft engineer Jessica Housden explains the difficulty of building a satellite to function in the extreme environment of space. The side exposed to the sun can be as hot as an oven, while the other side can be as cold as Antarctica. She stresses the importance of using a material such as aluminium honeycomb, which is a good conductor of heat. Aeolus is nearing completion, and Dr Aderin-Pocock demonstrates the vibration test rig used to make sure it will survive its launch scheduled for 2010.
Illustrates the importance of engineering in the modern world, and demonstrates the impact sophisticated technology can have on our everyday lives.
Also useful for several aspects of Discovering Engineering Technology, especially materials and electronic systems. Can also feed into discussions of climate change, with the possibility that freak events such as hurricanes may become more common.
Will work well for all viewers in the 14-19 age range.
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