Successful start of the NASA mission to monitor global water masses

SWOT mission successfully launched: targeting global water masses to deepen understanding of climate change

Nasa SWOT Mission explores bodies of water
NASA SWOT Spacecraft - Source & Copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech

Author: House of Eden

  • NASA's long-term commitment to climate research is rewarded
  • SWOT mission reveals clearer picture of 95% of world's lakes and rivers
  • Innovative instrument that returns radar pulses from water surfaces

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission recently celebrated its successful launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This joint project is from NASA, CNES (Centre National d'Études Spatiales), CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and the British Space Agency. The aim is to monitor Earth's water mass and deepen the understanding of climate change.

NASA's SWOT mission shows new perspectives in the study of water masses

SWOT's three-year main mission will begin after the spacecraft has undergone six months of checks and calibrations. During this time, the probe will systematically survey the Earth's surface to accurately record the heights of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and oceans. The data obtained should help to better understand the effects of climate change on the earth's surface. It is also intended to support communities in preparing for natural disasters such as floods.

At the heart of the SWOT mission is the Ka-band radar interferometer (KaRIn), an innovative instrument capable of returning radar pulses from water surfaces and receiving them with two antennas. This technology makes it possible to precisely determine the height of the water surface in two swaths, each 50 kilometers wide. The data collected will help improve river flood forecasts, monitor the impact of drought on lakes and reservoirs, and better track sea level rise.

NASA's commitment to collaboration as key to a successful launch

An important aspect of the SWOT mission is the long-standing and successful international cooperation in climate research. The organizations involved have been working together continuously since the 1980s and have already successfully launched the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite. The SWOT mission will not only provide valuable scientific insights but also provide practical support for policymakers and resource managers.

By providing information about where the water is—where it's coming from and where it's going—researchers can improve flood predictions for rivers. In addition, the effects of droughts on lakes and reservoirs are to be monitored. The organizations involved are confident that the results of the SWOT mission will advance our understanding of climate change. In addition, it is also informed about future measures to adapt and contain its consequences.

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