earth observation satellite carrying the SeaWinds scatterometer to measure the surface wind speed and direction over the ice-free global oceans

The QuikSCAT (Quick Scatterometer) is an earth-observing satellite that provides wind speed and direction information over oceans to NOAA. It is a "quick recovery" mission to fill the gap created by the loss of data from the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) that was lost in June 1997. It is in a sun-synchronous low-earth orbit.

Organization JPL, NASA
Mission Type Earth observation
Contractor Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
Satellite of Earth
Launch June 19, 1999 on a Titan II
Launch site Vandenberg Air Force Base
Mission duration 2–3 years
Mass 971 kg (launch)
Webpage winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/quikscat/
Orbital elements
Semimajor Axis 7180.8 km
Eccentricity 0.00014
Inclination 98.6 degrees
Orbital Period 100.93 minutes
Right ascension of the ascending node 178.47 degrees
Argument of perigee 47.4 degrees
SeaWinds microwave radar that measures near-surface wind speed and direction

Because of the 2003 failure of the ADEOS II satellite that was meant to succeed the NSCAT, QuickSCAT is currently the only US-owned instrument in orbit that measures surface winds over the oceans.[1] The European Space Agency has its own scatterometers in orbit, such as Envisat.

However, because it is now running on a backup transmitter and having other problems, this satellite could fail at any moment, putting risk at weather forecasts for possibly dangerous tropical cyclones.[2]

In early June 2007, Bill Proenza, Director of the National Hurricane Center in Florida, came under fire for criticizing his NOAA superiors for not creating a back-up plan for replacing the capabilities provided by this satellite.[3]


  1. "Aging satellite worries hurricane forecasters". MSNBC.com. Associated Press. 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  2. Gresko, Jessica (2007-06-14). "Hurricane Satellite Could Fail Anytime". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. pp. A17. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
  3. Merzer, Martin (2007-06-16). "Candid storm chief gets a lashing". The Miami Herald. The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2007-06-17.