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TMCNet:  NASA to launch ocean wind monitor to space station

[January 29, 2013]

NASA to launch ocean wind monitor to space station

WASHINGTON, Jan 29, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The U.S. space agency NASA announced Tuesday that it will launch the ISS-RapidScat instrument to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean- surface wind speed and direction.

The ISS-RapidScat instrument will help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring, and understanding of how ocean-atmosphere interactions influence Earth's climate. It will help fill the data gap created when QuikScat, which was designed to last two years but operated for 10, stopped collecting ocean wind data in late 2009.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have studied next-generation replacements for QuikScat, but a successor will not be available soon. To meet this challenge cost- effectively, NASA proposed adapting leftover QuikScat hardware in combination with new hardware for use on the space station.

ISS-RapidScat will have measurement accuracy similar to QuikScat's and will survey all regions of Earth accessible from the space station's orbit. The instrument will be launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. It will be installed on the end of the station's Columbus laboratory as an autonomous payload requiring no interaction by station crew members. It is expected to operate aboard the station for two years.

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