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NASA Facts

National Aeronautics and

Space Administration
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91109

Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat)

The Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) mission is a increasingly important role in oceanographic, meteo-
"quick recovery" mission to fill the gap created by the rological and climate studies.
loss of data from the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT),
As part of this mission, NASA sponsors a team of
when the satellite it was flying on lost power in June
scientific investigators who
provide advice during the
QuikScat is planned for development of the instru-
launch from California’s ment and the ground data
Vandenberg Air Force Base processing system. A sci-
aboard a Titan II vehicle in ence team will conduct
early 1999 and will contin- research with the SeaWinds
ue to collect important data; these studies are
ocean wind data that was expected to lead to
begun by NSCAT in improved methods of glob-
September 1996. The al weather forecasting and
SeaWinds instrument on modeling.
the QuikScat satellite is a
The main objective of
specialized microwave
the SeaWinds instrument to
radar that measures near-
collect information about
surface wind speed and
both the speed and direc-
direction under all weather
tion of winds near the
and cloud conditions over
ocean surface. The instru-
Earth's oceans.
ment also provide
The SeaWinds instru- researchers with data col-
ment on QuikScat is part of lected over land and sea
NASA’s Earth Observing ice.
System (EOS), which is
designed to address global
SeaWinds Program Office
environmental changes. Winds are a critical factor in has been assigned responsibility and provides man-
determining regional weather patterns and climate.
agement, ground systems and the SeaWinds instru-
Oceans cover 70 percent of Earth's surface, and scat-
ment. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center obtained
terometers are the only remote-sensing system that
the satellite from Ball Aerospace & Technologies
can provide accurate, frequent, high-resolution mea- Corp.
surements of ocean surface wind velocities, under all
weather conditions. These instruments play an The SeaWinds instrument uses a rotating dish
antenna with two spot beams that sweep in a circular Measurements
pattern. The antenna radiates microwave pulses at a q 1,800-kilometer swath during each orbit pro-
frequency of 13.4 gigahertz across broad regions on vides approximately 90-percent coverage of Earth's
Earth's surface. The instrument will collect data over oceans every day.
ocean, land, and ice in a continuous, 1,800-kilometer-
wide band, making approximately 400,000 measure- q Wind-speed measurements of 3 to 20
ments per day. meters/second, with an accuracy of 2 meters/second;
direction, with an accuracy of 20 degrees
QuikScat will be launched into a sun-synchro-
nous, 803-kilometer, circular orbit. Data acquisition q Wind vector resolution of 25 kilometers.
will be performed by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
QuikScat Team Leaders
Wallops will manage, implement and operate the
NASA tracking stations at Poker Flats, Wallops Flight q Program Manager: James E. Graf, JPL.
Facility, Svalbard and McMurdo. q Principal Investigators: W. Timothy Liu, JPL,
and Michael H. Freilich, Oregon State University.
Science Objectives
q Acquire all-weather, high-resolution measure-
ments of near-surface winds over the global oceans
q Determine atmospheric forcing, ocean 11-98
response, and air-sea interaction mechanisms on vari-
ous spatial and temporal scales
q Combine wind data with measurements from
scientific instruments in other discipline to help us
better understand the mechanisms of global climate
change and weather patterns
q Studies of annual and semi-annual rain forest
vegetation changes
q Daily/seasonal sea ice edge movement and
polar ice pack changes

Operational Objectives
q Improve weather forecasts near coastlines by
using wind data in numerical weather- and wave-pre-
diction models
q Improve storm warning and monitoring

Instrument Description
q Radar: 13.4 gigahertz, 110-watt pulse at 189-
hertz PRF
q Antenna: 1-meter-diameter rotating dish that
produces two spot beams, sweeping in a circular pat-
q Mass: 200 kilograms
q Power: 220 watts
q Average Data Rate: 40 kilobits per second