A new NASA Earth-observing mission that will measure ocean winds from the In a release, the group noted the
Winds over the ocean are a critical factor in determining regional weather patterns and studying climate. High winds in severe storms also can inflict major damage to shore populations and shipping. In some regions, ocean winds drive warm surface ocean waters away from coastlines, causing nutrient-rich deep water to rise to the surface, where they provide a major source of food for coastal fisheries. Changes in ocean winds also help us monitor large- scale changes in Earth's climate variations, such as
Scatterometers are radar sensors that bounce microwaves off the ocean surface and measure the strength and direction of the echoes that return. The echoes are scattered by the presence of wind- driven waves on the ocean surface. ISS-RapidScat will help fill the gap left by the loss of these data and will extend a 15-year ocean wind climate record.
ISS-RapidScat's berth on the space station will put it in an orbit that is unique from any other wind-measuring instrument currently in space. This orbit, with an altitude that varies from 233 to 270 miles (375 to 435 kilometers), will give scientists the first near-global direct observations of how ocean winds vary over the course of the day, while adding extra eyes in the tropics and midlatitudes to track the formation and movement of tropical cyclones. Its 560-mile-wide (900-kilometer) observation swath creates a map of winds over most of the ocean between 51.6 degrees north and south of the equator every 48 hours.
ISS-RapidScat also will extend the continuity and usefulness of the scatterometer data record from the international constellation of ocean wind satellites. Currently, satellites in the constellation observe at different times of the day. Using the space station's orbit, it will be possible for ISS-RapidScat to observe areas where the orbits of the other scatterometers in the constellation intersect at the same time. This capacity will allow scientists to correct for previously unknown relative errors between the different wind satellites and extend QuikScat's 10-plus-year record to create a continuous record.
After arriving at the space station, ISS-RapidScat will be installed on the external payload facility on the
ISS-RapidScat is a partnership between JPL and the International Space Station Program Office at
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A new NASA Earth-observing mission that will measure ocean winds from the
In a release, the group noted the