The AMSU-A1 measures scene radiance in the microwave spectrum. The data from this instrument is used in conjunction with the HIRS to calculate the global atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles from the Earth's surface to the upper stratosphere, approximately a 2-millibar pressure altitude (48 km or 29.8 mi). The data is used to provide precipitation and surface measurements including snow cover, sea ice concentration, and soil moisture.
The AMSU-A2 is a cross-track scanning total power radiometer. It is divided into two physically separate modules, each of which operates and interfaces with the spacecraft independently. Module A-1 contains 13 channels and Module A-2 contains two channels. The instrument has an IFOV of 3.3° at the half-power points providing a nominal spatial resolution at nadir of 48 km (29.8 mi). The antenna provides a cross-track step scan, scanning ± 48.3° from nadir with a total of 30 Earth fields-of view per scan line. The instrument completes one scan every 8 seconds.