Quick Scatterometer

Mission Summary

The Quick Scatterometer, or QuikScat, was an Earth satellite that provided valuable data on ocean winds, revolutionizing environmental predictions and weather forecasting. Designed as a speedy replacement for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Advanced Earth Observing Satellite-1 and its NASA Scatterometer instrument, QuikScat was conceived, developed and launched in less than two years. The satellite was planned for a two-year mission, but spent 10 years in operation until it stopped collecting wind data in 2009 due to an age-related failure of a mechanism that spins the scatterometer antenna.

QuikScat data has become such an intrinsic part of weather predictions, including hurricane monitoring, that soon after the instrument stopped working, NASA began preparations to launch a replacement instrument to the International Space Station in 2014. The new instrument, called ISS-RapidScat, was conceived with hardware originally made to test QuikScat, allowing the agency to cost-effectively and quickly put the replacement instrument in orbit.

Scientific Instrument(s)

- Active radar scatterometer (SeaWinds)

Acronym: QuikScat
Type: Orbiter
Status: Past
Launch Date: June 19, 1999
7:15 p.m. PDT (02:15 UTC)
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Mission End Date: November 23, 2009
Target: Earth
SeaWinds scatterometer chart Watching the Winds Where Sea Meets Sky

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Using data from NASA's QuikScat, weather forecasters were able to predict hazardous weather events over oceans 6 to 12 hours earlier than before these data were available QuikScat's Eye on Ocean Winds Lives On with RapidScat

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Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset) NASA to Launch Ocean Wind Monitor to Space Station

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