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During its brief 110-day lifetime, the SEASAT-1 spacecraft, launched on June 28, 1978 by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, collected information on sea-surface winds, sea-surface temperatures, wave heights, internal waves, atmospheric water, sea ice features, ice sheet topography, and ocean topography. This was the first JPL mission to study Earth with the use of imaging radar.

Table of Contents

1. Source/Platform or Data Collection Environment Overview
2. Ground Segment Information
3. References
4. Document Information

1.Source/Platform or Data Collection Environment Overview

Source/Platform or Data Collection Environment Long Name, Source/Platform Acronym

Ocean Dynamics Satellite/SEASAT

Source/Platform Introduction

SEASAT supported five sensors: ALT (radar altimeter), SMMR (Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer), SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), SASS (SEASAT-A Scatterometer System), and VIRR (Visible and Infrared Radiometer). SEASAT was in a near-circular, polar orbit at an altitude of 805 kilometers and at an inclination of 108 degrees. The satellite orbited the Earth 14 times daily and covered 95 percent of the world's oceans every 36 hours. On October 10, 1978, the satellite suffered a massive short circuit in its electrical system and stopped functioning.

Source/Platform Program Management

SEASAT was a NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Earth observation mission.

SEASAT's five onboard sensors were individually managed by the following centers:

Source/Platform Mission Objectives

SEASAT was specifically designed to study oceanographic phenomena. The mission's purpose was to help determine the requirements for an operational ocean remote sensing satellite system.

Source/Platform Parameters

SEASAT was launched on June 26, 1978 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The SEASAT launch vehicle, Atlas-Agena, provided attitude control, power, guidance, telemetry, and command functions. A sensor module was attached to the Agena and carried the payload of five microwave instruments and their antennas. Together, the two modules measured 21 meters long and 1.5 meters in diameter. Once in orbit and after burnout of the Agena stage, the SEASAT spacecraft weighed 2300 kilograms.

Coverage Information

SEASAT was in a near-circular, polar orbit, at an altitude of 805 kilograms and an inclination of 108 degrees. The satellite completed 14 Earth orbits per day.

Click here for the JPL SEASAT coverage map.

Attitude Characteristics

Atlas-Agena, the SEASAT launch vehicle, provided attitude control for the satellite. In orbit, SEASAT appeared to stand on end, with the sensor and communications antennas pointing toward Earth and the Agena rocket nozzle and solar panels pointing toward space. SEASAT was stabilized by a momentum wheel/horizon sensing system.

Communication Links

No information is available at this time.

List of Sensors/Instruments

2. Ground Segment Information

Tracking and Control

See Source/Platform Program Management

Data Acquisition and Processing

Data were transmitted from the satellite in three separate streams: A 25-kbps real-time stream containing instrument data from ALT, SASS, SMMR, and VIRR and all engineering subsystem data, an 800-kbps playback stream of recorded real-time data, and a 20-MHz analog SAR instrument data stream.

Radar altimeter data, in the form of Geophysical Data Records (GDRs) and Sensor Data Records (SDRs) were produced by NASA's SEASAT project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

SAR data from SEASAT were acquired digitally, and most of the data were optically processed into survey data products, available on 70-mm film. The SEASAT 100-km swath data were processed into four 25-km wide products at JPL. A small percentage of the data were digitally processed. These products contain the complete 100-km wide swath of data. (JPL's SEASAT digital processor operated from 1978 to 1982, converting approximately 10 percent of the total SEASAT data set to precision data. JPL currently has no capability to process additional SAR data from SEASAT.)

SASS data were produced by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which processed the Wentz 100-km by 100-km scatterometer data using an objective ambiguity removal scheme.

SMMR output from SEASAT is in the form of calibrated SDRs. Data product volume is 45.7 gigabytes. SMMR data are archived at JPL.

3. References

Belgian Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs. 1996. SEASAT - Programme. The TELSAT Guide for Satellite Imagery, Programmes, Internet Page.

Born, G. H., J. A. Dunne, and D. B. Lamb. 1979. Reports: Seasat mission overview. Science 204: 1405-6.

CEOS-IDN. 1997. SEASAT-A scatterometer system. Internet page.

Martin, Thomas V., H. Jay Zwally, Anita C. Brenner, and Robert A. Bindschadler. 1983. Analysis and retracking of continental ice sheet radar altimeter waveforms. Journal of Geophysical Research 88 (C3): 1608-16.

NASA. Seasat-A. NASA Space Link, Internet page.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Seasat. Mission and Spacecraft Library, Internet page.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Seasat. Mission Thumbnail, Internet page.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Seasat 1978. JPL Imaging Radar, Internet page.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Seasat altimeter geophysical record. Digital data available from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC), NASA, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Seasat (ocean monitor). Internet page.

Zwally, H. Jay, Anita C. Brenner, Judith A. Major, Thomas V. Martin, and Robert A. Bindschadler. 1990. Satellite radar altimetry over ice. NASA Reference Publication 1233(1): 1.

4. Document Information

Document Revision Date

February 4, 1998

Document Review Date

February 3, 1998

Document ID

This section is not applicable.

Document Curator

NSIDC Writers

Document URL