The POT has launched its first mission to study freshwater systems from a global perspective. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission launched from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday, December 16 at 3:46 am PT. The SWOT spacecraft was launched using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The mission aims to observe not only the oceans but also freshwater systems such as lakes and rivers, making it the first mission to do so from space. The intent is for the mission to study the flow of water between these systems and the ocean and look at the depth of the water to get a more complete picture of water flow across the planet.
Understanding the flow of water around the world is important for understanding the effects of climate change and for monitoring climate change more closely.
“Warming seas, extreme weather, more severe wildfires: these are just a few of the consequences humanity is facing due to climate change,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. release. “The climate crisis requires an all hands on deck approach, and SWOT is the realization of a longstanding international partnership that will ultimately better equip communities to meet these challenges.”
SWOT will be able to study freshwater systems on more than 90% of the Earth’s surface, covering the global area at least once every 21 days. It will use a radar-based instrument called a Ka-band radar interferometer, or KaRIn, to observe large areas of the surface at once. Being able to observe large swaths of the surface at higher resolution allows for more precise monitoring of freshwater systems.
“We can’t wait to see SWOT in action,” said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Division of Earth Sciences. “This satellite embodies how we are improving life on Earth through science and technological innovations. The data that the innovation will provide is essential to better understand how Earth’s air, water and ecosystems interact, and how people can thrive on our changing planet.”