Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NASA's New Wind Watcher Ready for Weather Forecasters

ISS-RapidScat data on a North Atlantic extratropical cyclone, as seen by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System used by weather forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ocean Prediction Center.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAA

In an early holiday gift to the world's weather and marine forecasting agencies, ocean-winds data from NASA's newest Earth-observing mission, the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat), are being released two months ahead of schedule.

RapidScat launched to the International Space Station on Sept. 21 on a two-year mission to boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies.

The JPL-developed space-based scatterometer is a remote-sensing instrument that uses radar pulses reflected from the ocean's surface at different angles to calculate surface wind speed and direction.

This information will improve weather and marine forecasting and hurricane monitoring.

Working at an accelerated pace, scientists and engineers have successfully cross-calibrated ISS-RapidScat's ocean winds data with data from NASA's QuikScat satellite and validated the data against ground measurements.

The team reports the RapidScat data are meeting all planned wind performance requirements and are ready to begin extending the long-term climate data record of ocean-surface winds begun by QuikScat in 1999.

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