BackForwardInstrument:  RapidScat 

Instrument details
Acronym RapidScat
Full name Rapid Scatterometer
Purpose Sea surface wind vector
Short description Ku-band (13.4 GHz)
Background Refurbishment of the engineering unit of the QuikSCAT SeaWinds, adapted to the ISS (lower orbit, slightly smaller antenna size).
Scanning Technique Conical scanning, two beams, to provide four views of each spot from different angles; swath 900 km
Resolution Best quality: 50 km - standard quality: 25 km - basic sampling: 12.5 km
Coverage / Cycle Latitude-limited by the ISS orbital inclination (51.6°). Low and middle latitudes covered nearly daily.
Mass 200 kg Power 220 W Data Rate 40 kbps


Providing Agency NASA
Instrument Maturity Flown on an R&D satellite
Utilization Period: 2014 to 2016
Last update: 2022-07-25
Detailed characteristics
Satellites this instrument is flying on

Note: a red tag indicates satellites no longer operational, a green tag indicates operational satellites, a blue tag indicates future satellites

Instrument classification
  • Earth observation instrument
  • Active and radio-occultation sensor
  • Scatterometer
WIGOS Subcomponents
  • Subcomponent 1
  • Scatterometers [in SSO]
  • Scatterometer [in inclined orbits]
Mission objectives
Primary mission objectives
  • Wind speed (near surface)
  • Wind vector (near surface)
Evaluation of Measurements

The following list indicates which measurements can typically be retrieved from this category of instrument. To see a full Gap Analysis by Variable, click on the respective variable.

Note: table can be sorted by clicking on the column headers
Note: * Primary mission objective.
VariableRelevance for measuring this variableOperational limitationsExplanation
Leaf Area Index (LAI)4 - fairCoarse spatial resolution.Ku-band scatterometer sensitive to LAI
Sea-ice type1 - primaryNo specific limitation.Scatterometer, Ku-band (around 13.3 GHz). Type interpreted as age/roughness
Snow cover3 - highCoarse spatial resolution.. Thick snow only.Scatterometer in Ku-band (around 13.3 GHz)
Snow status (wet/dry)3 - highCoarse spatial resolution.. Thick snow only.Scatterometer in Ku-band (around 13.3 GHz)
Snow water equivalent5 - marginalCoarse spatial resolution.. Ground stations network needed.Scatterometer in Ku-band (around 13.3 GHz)
Soil moisture at surface3 - highCoarse spatial resolution.. Strongly affected by vegetation.Scatterometer in Ku-band (around 13.3 GHz)
Wind speed (near surface)*1 - primaryOver sea only.Ku-band scatterometer around 13.3 GHz
Wind vector (near surface)*2 - very highOver sea only.Ku-band scatterometer around 13.3 GHz