NASA/JPL scatterometers have been measuring global sea-surface wind from space since the late 1970's. Over the years, the improvements in performance have been significant. Scatterometer swath widths (which are critical for obtaining global coverage on short time scales) have nearly doubled, and a future scatterometer placed into medium earth orbit (MEO) is expected to exhibit a revolutionary increase in swath width. As the coverage of scatterometer data increased, the size of wind vector cells has decreased, providing higher resolution wind fields. Future missions are likely to push resolutions down to 10 km. There is a great deal of interest in high wind speed phenomena, and the scatterometers at NASA/JPL continue to improve their ability to measure high wind speeds. Additionally, the physical size of scatterometers has been decreasing, allowing them to be accommodated more easily aboard spacecraft. Whereas SASS and NSCAT required the deployment of large stick antennas, improvements in design have enabled SeaWinds (on both QuikSCAT and ADEOS-II) to utilize a small, spinning reflector dish. Future scatterometers, enhanced by polarimetric capabilities, may only require half of the field of view, making accommodation even easier.
James N. Huddleston, Wu-Yang Tsai, and Philip