Launch: June 19, 1999
Mass: 970 kilograms (2,140 pounds) total, consisting of 870-kilogram (1,914-pound)
satellite (including radar instrument) and 76 kilograms (167 pounds) of thruster propellant
Science instruments: Scatterometer
The Quick Scatterometer, or "QuikScat," is a rapidly developed mission that replaced
the capability of the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) instrument on Japanís Midori satellite
(previously known as the Advanced Earth Observation Satellite (ADEOS)), which lost power
in 1997 nine months after launch in September 1996.
Built in record time in just 12 months, the ocean-observing satellite was launched
June 19, 1999, on a Titan II rocket from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.
It circles Earth at an altitude of 800 kilometers (500 miles) once every 101 minutes,
passing close to Earthís north and south poles. The scatterometer instrument it carries
is known as Seawinds.
Scatterometers operate by sending radar pulses to the ocean
surface and measuring the "backscattered" or echoed radar pulses bounced back to the
satellite. The instrument senses ripples caused by winds near the oceanís surface, from
which scientists can compute the windsí speed and direction. The instruments can acquire
hundreds of times more observations of surface wind velocity each day than can ships and
The mission is managed by JPL, which also built the Seawinds radar instrument. NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center managed development of the satellite, designed and built by
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
For more information, see the
QuikScat home page.