ISS-RapidScat Instrument: A New Measure of Ocean Winds

Mission scientists and engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe how their small team, on a tight budget and short deadline, created the ISS-RapidScat instrument to gather high-priority measurements of ocean winds from a berth on the International Space Station. The ISS-RapidScat instrument is a replacement for NASA's QuikScat Earth satellite, which monitored ocean winds to provide essential measurements used in weather predictions, including hurricane monitoring. When the satellite stopped collecting wind data in late 2009, NASA was challenged to quickly and cost-effectively conceive of a replacement. JPL came up with a solution that uses the framework of the ISS and reuses hardware originally built to test parts of QuikScat to create an instrument for a fraction of the cost and time it would take to build and launch a new satellite. The resulting ISS-RapidScat instrument is aboard the International Space Station and will measure Earth's ocean surface wind speed and direction.