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SeaWinds (ADEOS II)

SeaWinds (ADEOS II) mission graphic

SeaWinds scatterometer

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: December 14, 2002

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The SeaWinds scatterometer is a specialized microwave radar that measures near-surface wind velocity (both speed and direction) under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. This is a twin sister to the QuikSCAT sensor and flies on the Japanese ADEOS-II Spacecraft to provide similar observations beyond the QuikSCAT mission. The experiment is a follow-on mission and continues the data series initiated in 1996 by the NSCAT.

Winds over the ocean modulate air-sea changes in heat, moisture, gases and particulates, regulating the crucial bond between atmosphere and ocean that establishes and maintains global and regional climate. Measurements of surface wind velocity can be used in regional and global numerical weather models to improve our ability to predict weather. As the only remote-sensing system to provide accurate, frequent, high-resolution measurements of ocean surface wind velocities, under all weather conditions, scatterometers play an increasingly important role in oceanographic, meteorological and climatic studies.

SeaWinds is an active radar scatterometer. This scatterometer operates by transmitting high-frequency microwave pulses to the ocean surface and measuring the echoed radar pulses bounced back to the satellite. The scatterometer estimates wind speed and direction over the Earth's oceans at 10 m above the surface of the water. The instrument collects data over ocean, land, and ice in a continuous, 1,800-kilometer-wide band, making approximately 400,000 measurements and covering 90% of Earth's surface in one day. SeaWinds can acquire hundreds of times more observations of surface wind velocity each day than can ships and buoys, and can provide continuous, accurate and high-resolution measurements of both wind speeds and direction regardless of weather conditions. This data is vital for global climate research, operational weather forecasting, and storm warning. It can also be combined with measurements from scientific instruments in other disciplines to understand mechanisms of global climate change and weather patterns.

ADEOS-II beams down SeaWinds-collected science data to ground stations operated by NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan, which then relay them to scientists and weather forecasters. SeaWinds provides ocean wind coverage to an international team of climate specialists, oceanographers and meteorologists interested in discovering secrets of climate patterns and improving the speed with which emergency preparedness agencies can respond to fast-moving weather fronts, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.

SeaWinds (ADEOS-II) is a joint mission with the NASDA. The SeaWinds Project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology.