Launch of an international NASA mission to examine Earth’s water

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Launch of an international NASA mission to examine Earth’s water

Surface water and ocean topography missions led by NASA and the French space agency CNES will provide high-resolution data on surface salinity and freshwater.

A satellite built for NASA and France’s Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) space agency will take off at 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday to observe nearly all water on the surface of the Earth. and was on its way to low earth orbit. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) probe also has contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the British Space Agency.

The SWOT spacecraft was launched on a SpaceX rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Space Force Station Vandenberg, California, and the primary mission was his three years. The satellite measures water levels in more than 90% of the Earth’s surface, freshwater bodies and oceans. This information provides insight into how the ocean affects climate change. Impact of global warming on lakes, rivers and reservoirs. How can communities prepare for disasters such as floods?

After SWOT separated from the second stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ground controllers successfully acquired the satellite’s signal. Initial telemetry reports indicated the spacecraft was in good shape. SWOT undergoes a series of tests and calibrations before it begins collecting scientific data in about six months.

SWOT covers the entire surface of the Earth between 78°S and 78°N latitudes at least every 21 days and returns about 1 terabyte of raw data per day. At the heart of spacecraft science is a revolutionary instrument called the Ka-band radar interferometer (KaRIn), which represents a major technological breakthrough. KaRIn transmits radar pulses from the surface of the water and uses her two antennas on either side of the spacecraft to receive return signals. This arrangement (one signal, two antennas) allows the engineer to accurately determine the water level in two swaths of 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide.

“Warming oceans, extreme weather events, and violent wildfires are just a few of the impacts humanity faces from climate change,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The climate crisis requires a comprehensive approach, and SWOT is the realization of long-term international partnerships that will ultimately better equip communities to meet these challenges.”

Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, said: “This satellite embodies how we can improve life on earth through scientific and technological innovation. And it’s essential to better understanding how humans can thrive on a changing planet.”

One of the many benefits the SWOT mission offers is a much clearer picture of the Earth’s freshwater bodies. Worldwide she provides data on more than 95% of lakes over 62,500 square meters and rivers over 100 meters in diameter.

Along the coast, SWOT provides sea level information and fills observation gaps in areas where there are no tide gauges or other instruments to measure sea level height. Over time, this data will help researchers better track sea-level rise, directly impacting communities and coastal ecosystems. Such an ambitious mission has been made possible by NASA’s long commitment to working with institutions around the world to study the Earth and its climate. NASA and CNES have had her decade-long relationship that began in the 1980s to monitor Earth’s oceans. This collaboration, with the launch of her TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in 1992, pioneered the use of space-based instruments called altimeters to study sea level. “This mission marks the continuation of 30 years of NASA-CNES collaboration in altimeters,” said Caroline Laurent, director of orbital systems and applications at CNES. “This shows how international cooperation can be achieved through groundbreaking missions that help us better understand climate change and its impacts around the world.”

SWOT measurements also help researchers, policy makers, and resource managers to better assess and plan for events such as floods and droughts. By providing information about where water comes from and where it goes, researchers can improve flood forecasting in rivers and monitor the impact of drought on lakes and reservoirs. “SWOT provides important information in the face of the pressing challenges posed by climate change and rising sea levels,” said Laurie Lehshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL develops the KaRIn instrument and manages the US portion of the mission. “The fact that SWOT fills gaps in our knowledge and informs future actions is a direct result of years of commitment, innovation and collaboration.

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