Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are receiving the first calibration data from the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) after the instrument was successfully powered on Monday night.

NSCAT, an instrument that measures the speed and direction of winds over the oceans, was launched August 16 by Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) onboard its Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS). Information from NSCAT will help scientists predict climate changes and improve weather forecasts, and will also help them understand ocean circulation and the role of air-sea interactions in the global ecosystem.

"We'll spend the next few days assessing the instrument's health by cycling through several operational modes and checking out the engineering data," said Jim Graf, the NSCAT project manager at JPL. "The instrument will enter into a science observation mode on Monday, September 16. The first wind image should be available sometime in early October."

NSCAT will provide an important new tool for weather forecasters to more accurately predict weather, particularly in coastal regions such as Southern California. "Winds over the oceans affect us in Los Angeles directly, because that's where most of our weather comes from," Graf said.

NSCAT has been developed under NASA's strategic enterprise called Mission to Planet Earth, a comprehensive research effort to study Earth's land, oceans, atmosphere, ice and life as an interrelated system. JPL developed, built and manages the NSCAT instrument for NASA. The start of operations initiates a long-term cooperative investigation of Earth by the United States and Japan.

News Media Contact