Earth Observatory Glossary
(Starting with "Q")
Program Manager: David Herring,
Responsible NASA official: Dr. Michael D. King,
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||A NASA satellite that is providing climatologists, meteorologists and oceanographers with daily, detailed snapshots of the winds swirling above the world's oceans. QuikSCAT carries a state-of-the-art radar instrument called a scatterometer. Known as "SeaWinds," this scatterometer operates by transmitting high-frequency microwave pulses to the ocean surface and measuring the "backscattered" or echoed radar pulse bounced back to the satellite. The instrument senses ripples caused by winds near the ocean's surface, from which scientists can compute the winds' speed and direction. The instruments can acquire hundreds of times more observations of surface wind velocity each day than can ships and buoys, and are the only remote-sensing systems able to provide continuous, accurate and high-resolution measurements of both wind speeds and direction regardless of weather conditions. The instrument is currently collecting 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 each day. See QuikSCAT fact sheet.|
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