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Space Station to Monitor Ocean Wind

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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:40 PM

NASA to Launch Ocean Wind Monitor to Space Station



www.nasa.gov said:

Jan. 29, 2013

Trent J. Perrotto
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
trent.j.perrotto@nasa.gov

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474
alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

Josh Byerly
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
josh.byerly@nasa.gov                  


RELEASE : 13-032

NASA to Launch Ocean Wind Monitor to Space Station


WASHINGTON -- In a clever reuse of hardware originally built to test parts of NASA's QuikScat satellite, the agency will launch the ISS-RapidScat instrument to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean-surface wind speed and direction.

The ISS-RapidScat instrument will help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring, and understanding of how ocean-atmosphere interactions influence Earth's climate.

"The ability for NASA to quickly reuse this hardware and launch it to the space station is a great example of a low-cost approach that will have high benefits to science and life here on Earth," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's International Space Station program manager.

ISS-RapidScat will help fill the data gap created when QuikScat, which was designed to last two years but operated for 10, stopped collecting ocean wind data in late 2009. A scatterometer is a microwave radar sensor used to measure the reflection or scattering effect produced while scanning the surface of Earth from an aircraft or a satellite.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have studied next-generation replacements for QuikScat, but a successor will not be available soon. To meet this challenge cost-effectively, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., and the agency's station program proposed adapting leftover QuikScat hardware in combination with new hardware for use on the space station.

"ISS-RapidScat represents a low-cost approach to acquiring valuable wind vector data for improving global monitoring of hurricanes and other high-intensity storms," said Howard Eisen, ISS-RapidScat project manager at JPL. "By leveraging the capabilities of the International Space Station and recycling leftover hardware, we will acquire good science data at a fraction of the investment needed to launch a new satellite."

ISS-RapidScat will have measurement accuracy similar to QuikScat's and will survey all regions of Earth accessible from the space station's orbit. The instrument will be launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. It will be installed on the end of the station's Columbus laboratory as an autonomous payload requiring no interaction by station crew members. It is expected to operate aboard the station for two years.

ISS-RapidScat will take advantage of the space station's unique characteristics to advance understanding of Earth's winds. Current scatterometer orbits pass the same point on Earth at approximately the same time every day. Since the space station's orbit intersects the orbits of each of these satellites about once every hour, ISS-RapidScat can serve as a calibration standard and help scientists stitch together the data from multiple sources into a long-term record.

ISS-RapidScat also will collect measurements of Earth's global wind field at all times of day for all locations. Variations in winds caused by the sun can play a significant role in the formation of tropical clouds and tropical systems that play a dominant role in Earth's water and energy cycles. ISS-RapidScat observations will help scientists understand these phenomena better and improve weather and climate models.

The ISS-RapidScat project is a joint partnership of JPL and NASA's International Space Station Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, with support from the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on NASA's scatterometry missions, visit:

http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm


For more information about the International Space Station, visit:  

http://www.nasa.gov/station

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:51 PM

Space Station to Scan The Globe For Weather Data With ISS-RapidScat



www.nasa.gov said:

An artist's concept showing the<br />
International Space Station-RapidScat<br />
instrument against the station.<br />
(NASA JPL/Caltech)  <br />
<a href='http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/722988main_RapidScat3-full.jpg' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>View large image</a>
An artist's concept showing the
International Space Station-RapidScat
instrument against the station.
(NASA JPL/Caltech)  
View large image
Regular measurements of wind speed and direction at the ocean surface alert forecasters to threatening tropical storm conditions, while informing scientists of interactions between the atmosphere and sea currents that influence environmental conditions across the globe.

The observations are most effectively gathered from Earth orbit.

The U.S. lost that capability suddenly in late 2009, when the SeaWinds scatterometer aboard NASA's then 10-year-old QuikScat satellite experienced an age-related antenna failure.

While NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assess the options for a long term replacement, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, and the International Space Station Program Office at the Johnson Space Center have mobilized to launch a replacement assembled from spare components left over from the development of QuikScat and ADEOS II.

"The ability for NASA to quickly reuse this hardware and launch it to the space station is a great example of a low-cost approach that will have high benefits to science and life here on Earth," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's International Space Station program manager.

QuikScat satellite data, show the<br />
extensive pattern of rain water<br />
deposited by Hurricanes Katrina and<br />
Rita on land surfaces over several<br />
states in the southern and eastern<br />
United States. These results<br />
demonstrate the capability of<br />
satellite scatterometers to monitor<br />
changes in surface water on land.<br />
(NASA/JPL/QuikScat Science Team)   <br />
<a href='http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/722991main_rapid2_XL.jpg' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>View large image</a>
QuikScat satellite data, show the
extensive pattern of rain water
deposited by Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita on land surfaces over several
states in the southern and eastern
United States. These results
demonstrate the capability of
satellite scatterometers to monitor
changes in surface water on land.
(NASA/JPL/QuikScat Science Team)  
View large image
ISS-RapidScat will launch to the space station in 2014 aboard a SpaceX Dragon resupply mission. Once unpacked using the station's robot arms, ISS-RapidScat will install on the exterior of the Columbus module.

"ISS-RapidScat represents a low cost approach to acquiring valuable wind vector data for improving global monitoring of hurricanes and other high intensity storms," said Howard Eisen, ISS-RapidScat project manager at JPL. "By leveraging the capabilities of the International Space Station and recycling left over hardware, we will acquire good science data at a fraction of the investment needed to launch a new satellite."

Planning was initiated at JPL by Robert Gaston, the QuikScat operations manager, and Ernesto Rodriguez, the ISS-RapidScat project scientist, to enlist the space station as a platform for a SeaWinds replacement and jelled in March 2012, following a series of science and cost assessments.

Scatterometers function as active, all-weather radar systems. As their high frequency pulses bounce off the ocean surface, the echo returns with wind velocity and directional data. By combining satellite cloud imagery with wind field readings, forecasters can improve their predictions for gale force winds, storm surges and coastal flooding.

"From a forecaster's point of view, any sort of additional information you can get to help with hurricanes will be extremely useful," said Rodriguez.

ISS-RapidScat will play another important role by complementing scatterometers currently flying aboard the polar orbiting European Metop A and B and Indian OceanSat-2 satellites to gather data for climate models. Those models address subtle changes in El Nino, the warm Pacific Ocean equatorial current that influences weather across the U. S. Southwest, and other interactions between the sea and atmosphere that affect the polar ice masses and the world's rain forests.

While not in a polar orbit, the space station's high inclination trajectory will enable ISS-RapidScat to regularly cross the orbit tracks of its three companions and allow the NASA replacement to serve as an important calibration source.

The station's course will also take ISS-RapidScat over the Earth's surface at constantly changing times of day. Ocean winds are greatly influenced by solar radiation, which also varies with the time of day, trends that currently escape the notice of the European and Indian scatterometers that cross the same regions of the Earth at about the same local time each day.

"ISS-RapidScat will be a very useful instrument. By having something that makes all the instruments, which are slightly out of tune with each other, a better complement is extremely useful, said Rodriguez. "We really require multiple decades of data in order to see some of the uncertainties relative to climate. It's key to have consistently cross calibrated, multi-decadal measurements."



NASA's Johnson Space Center


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