NASA terminates ISS’ RapidScat instrument

NASA terminates ISS’ RapidScat instrument

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) has terminated the ISS Rapid Scatterometer (RapidScat) instrument on the International Space Station (ISS) that malfunctioned earlier this year.
Used to collect wind speed and direction data over the oceans, the RapidScat instrument had been operating on the orbiting observatory since October 2014. It had been collecting data by measuring the scattering of radar waves transmitted and then received by it.

The instrument in question lost power on Aug. 19th when an electrical power distribution system in the ISS’ Columbus module malfunctioned. Space station controllers managed to restore power to other instruments, but could not power up RapidScat again. The last futile attempt was made on Oct. 17th.

Even before losing power, the instrument had encountered technical issues. In August 2015, it suffered a glitch that caused a significant decline in the power level of the reflected signal.

Announcing the end of the mission, Michael Freilich of NASA’s Earth science division, said, “As a first-of-its-kind mission, ISS-RapidScat proved successful in providing researchers and forecasters with a low-cost eye on winds over remote areas of Earth’s oceans.”

NASA officials admitted that termination of the RapidScat instrument is a major setback in the space agency’s efforts to use the orbiting observatory as a platform for studying Earth sciences.


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