Research and Application News
After Two Long Careers, QuikSCAT Rings Down the Curtain
12 October 2018
Launched in June 1999 for an intended two-year mission, NASA's SeaWinds scatterometer instrument on the QuikSCAT spacecraft was turned off on 2 October in accordance with its end-of-mission plan. QuikSCAT spent its first decade creating an unprecedented record of the speed and direction of winds at the ocean surface. Then, for another nine years, it served as the gold standard of accuracy against which new spaceborne scatterometers were calibrated.
Managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, QuikSCAT was a unique national resource that far surpassed NASA's original science objective for the mission. During its 10 years of observing winds over the global ocean surface, QuikSCAT measurements were used by the world's weather forecasting agencies to improve forecasts and identify and monitor hurricanes and other storms far out in the open seas. Its data also provided critical information for monitoring, researching, modeling, and forecasting the atmosphere, ocean, ice and climate.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech - QuikSCAT imaged winds during many storms, including Hurricane Katrina, shown here covering the Gulf of Mexico in August 2005.