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NASA’s Earth-observing instrument installed on ISS


NasaWashington: NASA has successfully installed an Earth-observing instrument on the International Space Station (ISS) to boost weather and marine forecasting, including hurricane monitoring, as well as climate studies.

The International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer, or ISS-RapidScat, is collecting its first science data on ocean wind speeds and direction following its successful installation and activation on the space station.

Ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston robotically assembled the RapidScat instrument and its nadir adapter, which orients the instrument to point at Earth.

On October 1, the instrument was powered on, its antenna began spinning and it started transmitting and receiving its first winds data.

“Most satellite missions require weeks or even months to produce data of the quality that we seem to be getting from the first few days of RapidScat,” said RapidScat Project Scientist Ernesto Rodriguez of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, which built and manages the mission. “We have been very lucky that within the first days of operations we have already been able to observe a developing tropical cyclone

“The quality of these data reflect the level of testing and preparation that the team has put in prior to launch,” Rodriguez said.

RapidScat is the first science payload to be robotically assembled in space since the space station itself. It is an autonomous payload that requires no interaction from space station astronauts.

The instrument will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather and marine forecasting, including hurricane monitoring, as well as climate studies.

From the unique vantage point of the space station, this space-based scatterometer instrument will use radar pulses reflected from the ocean’s surface from different angles to calculate ocean surface wind speeds and directions.

The ISS-RapidScat instrument is a speedy an cost-effective replacement for NASA’s former QuikScat Earth satellite, which monitored ocean winds to provide essential measurements used in weather predictions, including hurricane monitoring.


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