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NASA’s Scatterometer Wraps Up Operations Aboard ISS

International Space StationA NASA Earth science instrument has ended operations after a two-year mission to monitor ocean winds aboard the International Space Station.

NASA said Monday the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer is designed to measure wind speed and direction over the ocean surface to help agencies forecast weather and monitor tropical cyclones.

“The data from ISS-RapidScat will help researchers contribute to an improved understanding of fundamental weather and climate processes, such as how tropical weather systems form and evolve,” said Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth science division.

NASA launched ISS-RapidScat in September 2014 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of a resupply mission to the space station.

A power distribution unit for ISS’ Columbus module malfunctioned on Aug. 19 which resulted in a power loss to ISS-RapidScat and attempts to reactivate the instrument were not successful, NASA said.

The agency does not plan to deploy a replacement scatterometer mission but the Indian Space Research Organization’s ScatSat ocean wind sensor will work to mitigate the loss of ISS-RapidScat’s data.

Agencies that used the instrument’s data included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Navy and European and Indian weather agencies.

ISS-RapidScat was a joint effort of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the ISS program office at Johnson Space Center with support from the Earth science division of NASA’s science mission directorate.

NASA plans to launch two Earth science instruments to ISS in 2017 to monitor the ozone layer and lightning over Earth’s tropics and mid-latitudes.

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