Japan's Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS) will carry a JPL instrument designed to measure global ocean surface winds as part of an international climate change research mission set to begin with a launch from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on Friday, August 16.
The NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) instrument aboard ADEOS will be launched by the fourth Japanese H-2 rocket. The launch window opens at 6:29 p.m. Pacific time (10:29 a.m. local Japanese time on August 17.) Destined for a 800-kilometer (497-mile) high circular orbit above the Earth, ADEOS is due to begin day-to-day science operations in November.
"ADEOS is the first in a series of major collaborative efforts between NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan in the area of Earth remote-sensing," said William Townsend, acting associate administrator for NASA's Office of Mission to Planet Earth. "As such, it is a superb example of increasing international cooperation between the United States and other spacefaring nations of the world in generating a better understanding of our planet and its complex climate."
Taking advantage of the natural reflection, or "backscattering," of radar pulses by wind-driven ripples in ocean waves, NSCAT will make 190,000 measurements per day of the speed and direction of winds within about 3 centimeters (1.5 inches) of the ocean surface. These winds directly affect the turbulent exchanges of heat, moisture and greenhouse gases between the atmosphere and the ocean. These air-sea exchanges, in turn, help determine regional weather patterns and shape global climate.
"NASA researchers will use the data to understand the interface between the Earth's two great fluids: the oceans and the atmosphere," said Jim Graf, NSCAT project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Understanding and characterizing this interface is critical to better scientific understanding of global warming, El Nino phenomenon and other studies of the Earth as a total system. In addition, seafaring organizations that transport goods and passengers across the oceans can use the data from NSCAT to steer their ships more safely and economically."
Covering more than 90 percent of the globe every two days, NSCAT will provide more than 100 times the amount of ocean wind information currently available from ship reports, according to Graf. Because NSCAT is a radar instrument, it is capable of taking data day and night, regardless of sunlight or weather conditions.
NSCAT data "will be very valuable to the National Weather Service," said Susan Zevin, Deputy Director for the weather service, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ocean surface wind measurements, used in numerical models, will help local weather forecasters more accurately predict the path and intensity of hurricanes, winter storms and other weather systems that form over the oceans.
NASA is also providing the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instrument that will measure atmospheric ozone content. Other science instruments on ADEOS provided by agencies in Japan and France will study ocean chlorophyll production and ocean temperature, land vegetation distribution, the vertical profile of atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor, and the polarization and direction of solar energy reflected by the Earth.
The ADEOS launch will be carried live on NASA TV beginning at 6:15 p.m. Pacific time, August 16. NASA Television is broadcast on Spacenet 2, transponder 5, channel 9, C-band, located at 69 degrees west longitude, with horizontal polarization. Frequency will be on 3880.0 megahertz, with audio on 6.8 megahertz.
NSCAT and TOMS/ADEOS have 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.
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