Scatterometers have provided continuous synoptic microwave radar coverage of the Earth from space for nearly a decade. NASA launched three scatterometers: the current SeaWinds scatterometer onboard QuikSCAT (QSCAT, 13.4 GHz) launched in 1999; the NASA scatterometer (NSCAT, 14.0 GHz), which flew on the Japanese Space Agency's ADEOS-1 platform during 1996–1997; and the Seasat-A scatterometer system (SASS, 14.6 GHz), which flew in 1978. The European Space Agency's (ESA) 5.3-GHz scatterometer (ESCAT) has been carried onboard both the ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites since 1991.
properties, including the phase state, of a particular surface type. Varying response from the surface also results from different polarizations, viewing angles and orientations, and radar frequencies. The wide swath of scatterometers provides near daily global coverage at intrinsic sensor resolutions that are generally between 25–50 km.