Sonification of Aeolus


ESA’s Earth Explorer Aeolus satellite was launched in August 2018 on a trailblazing mission to show how profiling Earth’s winds from space can improve weather forecasts and climate models. Data from its pioneering wind-mapping laser, which at one stage was thought a nigh-impossible feat of engineering, has been used by leading weather forecasting services throughout Europe.

Marking the end of Aeolus’ remarkable mission, ESA worked with composer Jamie Perera to create a woodwind piece from data that spans the lifetime of the satellite’s life in orbit around Earth.

In the resulting orchestral piece, every second is a day in the life of Aeolus, with data represented by the following instruments:

Piccolo: Rayleigh Top Altitude (the tops of clouds)
Flute: Rayleigh Observation Type (density of clouds)
Oboe: Rayleigh Reference Temperature (wind temperature)
Clarinet 1: Rayleigh Wind Velocity (wind velocity)
Clarinet 2: Rayleigh Wind Reference Pressure (air pressure)
Bassoon/Bass Clarinet: Rayleigh Bottom Altitude (Earth’s surface)
Ambient Synth: Validity Flag 0 (Aeolus downtime)

You can also hear landmark events such as volcanic eruptions represented by drums, hurricanes represented by wind sound effects, and the Coronavirus pandemic represented by a pulsing synth.

The full guide to the performance is also available to download in PDF 👉

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Credits: E. Trometer (sonification & music: J. Perera)

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