ISRO’s eye in the sky helps NASA track Sandy


US space agency using data obtained by OSCAT radar developed by Space Applications Centre.

An instrument developed at the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, has been helping US space agency NASA and international weather and climate scientists track Hurricane Sandy as it devastates America's eastern regions.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been feeding image data obtained by its OSCAT radar scatterometer — one of the instruments on board its OceanSat-2 satellite — at "near-real time" to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US.

OceanSat-2 satellite was mounted atop ISRO's PSLV-C14 and launched from Sriharikota, off Andhra Pradesh on September 23, 2009. One of the payloads was OSCAT, which was designed and developed at SAC, Ahmedabad.

"OSCAT is similar in design to NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, which ceased operations in November 2009. The OSCAT data are provided to NASA and NOAA in near-real time by ISRO," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a statement Wednesday.

An image taken by OSCAT at midnight EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) this past Monday — 9.30 am on Monday in India — was also released by JPL, which is located at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The image, enhanced by JPL, shows Hurricane Sandy approaching the eastern coast of the US. Sandy's eye, the image shows, whipped up winds of up to 96 kilometres per hour.

"Since NASA's QuikSCAT ocean wind satellite ceased nominal operations in November 2009, scientists and engineers from NASA, JPL and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have collaborated with ISRO in the ongoing efforts to calibrate and validate OSCAT measurements in order to ensure continuous coverage of ocean vector winds for use by the global weather forecasting and climate community," the statement added.

OceanSat-2 is among several satellites that are helping scientists track Hurricane Sandy. NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecrafts and Cloudsat satellite are also helping scientists track the storm's rampage.

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