A mission led by NASA was set to launch from California on Thursday, carrying a satellite that will perform an unprecedented survey of the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes for the first time.
Where to watch SWOT launch
Elon Musk’s SpaceX was scheduled to launch its Falcon 9 rocket at 3:46 am PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It is about 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The weather forecast for the launch was favourable, and NASA’s launch services team was able to manage the weather conditions for the mission. The launch, however, was delayed by a day after technicians detected traces of moisture in two of the rocket’s engines.
SWOT is now scheduled to lift off at 6:46 a.m. EST (1146 UTC) Friday, Dec. 16 i.e (around 15.15 pm IST
What is SWOT and what purpose will it serve
The SWOT satellite, which stands for Surface Water and Ocean Topography, is an advanced radar satellite that aims to provide scientists with a deeper understanding of the water covering the planet and how climate change affects the oceans and life on Earth.
Through its radar, the satellite will be able to monitor the water levels of different ocean features at a resolution ten times that of current technologies. It will also be able to measure over a million lakes and rivers on Earth.
Through its observations, the satellite will also be able to improve the accuracy of flood forecasts and provide scientists with more precise monitoring of impending droughts how rising sea levels, and life on Earth. NASA is the lead sponsor of the mission, along with the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency.
How SWOT radar will process data for researchers
The satellite was built and designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Los Angeles. The data collected by the radar will be used to improve the accuracy of climate and weather forecasts. It will also help scientists manage the limited supplies of freshwater in drought-stricken areas.
Through its three-year mission, the satellite will continuously monitor the water resources of the planet. It will also be able to provide scientists with a deeper understanding of how climate change affects the oceans and life on Earth.
The satellite will be able to determine 90 per cent of the water levels of the planet by scanning the surface of the Earth using its radar between 78°N latitude and 78°S latitude every 21 days.
How water level was surveyed before SWOT
Before the launch of the SWOT satellite, the conventional method of measuring sea surface height was used that used nadir or straight-down, altimetry to measure sea surface height. This method involves sending a series of laser or radar pulses to the surface. They then measure the time it takes for the signals to return to the satellite, revealing the distance to surface features.