European Space Agency Plans to Shoot Lasers into Clouds

By Gary Cutlack on at

The European Space Agency is planning to send two lasers into space, but it's OK, we're not yet at war with the Martians. It's something to do with making weather forecasts better by mapping clouds and stuff. Lasers help somehow.

The plan is to send two Aladin lasers up there, then point them at earth to come up with more accurate prediction maps of how clouds form and move. The agency explains how it all works with: "The laser system emits short powerful pulses of ultraviolet light down into the atmosphere. The telescope collects the light that is backscattered from air molecules, particles of dust and droplets of water. The receiver analyses the Doppler shift of the backscattered signal to determine the speed and direction of the wind at various altitudes below the satellite."

This results in virtually real-time analysis of how the weather works, which might improve the accuracy of future weather forecasts and doom-laden climate updates. Then, once it's done with that, they can boost the power of the lasers and use them to zap terrorists. [ESA via Engadget]

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