As Hurricane Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, ESA's Envisat satellite's radar was able to pierce through swirling clouds to directly show how the storm churns the sea surface. This image has then been used to derive Rita's wind field speeds.

European Space Agency analyzes Hurricane Rita
European Space Agency release
September 23, 2005
Envisat and ERS-2 reveal hidden side of Hurricane Rita
Another Envisat instrument called the Radar Altimeter-2 uses radar pulses to measure sea surface height (SSH) down to an accuracy of a few centimetres. Near-real time radar altimetry is a powerful tool for monitoring a hurricane's progress and predicting its potential impact. This is because anomalies in SSH can be used to identify warmer ocean features such as warm core rings, eddies and currents.

[Jeff King, Tom Bearden, Richard Hoagland on Hurricane anomalies]
Rita's eye displays a distinct pentagonal symmetry - This is soon after Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, about the period of time that it accelerated very quickly from a class-2 to a class-5 storm.  Experts say that this transition happened over a period of (~12) hours rather than the several days to be expected if warm surface water was the only energy source. 
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physics forum discussing "Hyperdimensional Katrina" concept: