Friday saw the launch of a satellite from California on a mission to survey almost all of the world’s water bodies and provide important information about how they affect or are affected by climate change.
At 11:46 GMT, a SpaceX rocket launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base carrying the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, a $1 billion mission produced by NASA and the CNES space agency of France.
It will begin gathering scientific data in roughly six months after passing through tests and calibrations, according to a statement from NASA.
Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, said that SWOT would increase our knowledge of how water circulates throughout the earth.
We will be able to observe eddies, currents, and ocean circulation in the oceans in more detail than ever before.
She claimed that doing so would make it easier to forecast floods in areas with excess water and manage water in drought-prone areas.
The French space agency CNES’ Selma Cherchali stated at a press briefing on Tuesday that the satellite symbolizes a “hydrology revolution We hope to deliver fine-scale observations that are ten times more accurate than what is now possible.”
SWOT will have the best view of the world’s oceans from a height of 890 kilometers (550 miles), enabling it to monitor the rise in sea levels as well as rivers and lakes.
Instead of the few thousand lakes that are currently visible from orbit, researchers will be able to collect data on millions of lakes.
“We are aware that the Earth’s water cycle is speeding up due to climate change. This indicates that some areas have an excess of water while others have not “explained NASA research scientist Benjamin Hamlington.
“Extreme floods and droughts are occurring more frequently, and precipitation patterns are shifting and becoming more unpredictable. Therefore, it’s crucial that we make an effort to comprehend what is happening in detail.”
According to Thierry Lafon, the project leader for SWOT at CNES, the mission is scheduled to run for three and a half years but could be extended to five years or even longer.
For more than 30 years, the US and French space agencies have collaborated on projects. TOPEX/Poseidon, a previous satellite created by the partners, enhanced understanding of ocean circulation and its impact on the world’s climate.