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A NASA satellite mission, the Quick Scatterometer, launched in June 1999 to measure wind speed and direction near the Earth's ocean surfaces. QuikSCAT studies interactions between the air and sea, movements and changes in the Arctic and Antarctic ice packs, and changes in rainforest vegetation. The data collected also improves weather forecasts near coastlines, as well as storm warnings and monitoring. In March 2002, it detected shifts in the Pacific winds that indicated the formation of the disruptive El Niño weather pattern.

Measurements, taken over land and ice, are made by one instrument, the SeaWinds Scatterometer, a specialized microwave radar that can make measurements in all weather and cloud conditions.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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