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NASA Launches SWOT Satellites for Water Reconnaissance – Astronauts

It is managed by NASA and the French space agency CNES Mission Surface water and ocean topography (SWOT), will provide high-resolution data on both the salt and fresh water of our planet.

Graphical representation of SWOT science instrument balances: JPL/NASA

The mission has received contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency and has a nominal duration of three years, which can be extended to five years.

The launch took place on Friday, December 16 at 12:45 Italian time, from Space Launch Complex 4E in Vandenberg Space Force Base In California, via the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher that put the payload into a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 857 km, 52 minutes after liftoff. The Falcon 9 first stage successfully returned to Vandenberg Air Force Base to land in Landing Zone 4, located 400 meters from the launch pad, after about 7 1/2 minutes. Leaves.

Monitoring the water level with innovative technologies

The SWOT satellite is designed to study changes in water levels on a global scale and provide, in unprecedented detailthree-dimensional volumetric data of the Earth’s oceans, lakes and rivers located on 90% of the Earth’s surface, with a repeat of 21 days in the geographic range between 78 degrees south latitude and 78 degrees north latitude, sending scientists one terabyte of raw data per day.

SWOT sampling mode. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

the Master SWOT Tools It is a nadir altimeter and radar interferometer in the Ka band, or Karen. KaRIn consists of two antennas separated by a 10-meter boom that independently receive the readings taken by the satellite on the Earth’s surface. Using satellite position data and comparing it to subsequent phase differences in signal reception, SWOT is able to measure water height with a margin of error of 1 cm over an area 50 km wide per track.

Among the main benefits of this mission is the ability to get a much clearer picture of the freshwater bodies of our planet. SWOT will provide data on more than 95% of the Earth’s lakes larger than 62,500 square metres, and rivers larger than 100 metres. Currently, freshwater body surveys have reliable readings for only a few thousand lakes worldwide. The SWOT will move in volume up to six figures, taking into account the millions of water bodies on the globe and the total length of all Earth’s rivers, which is estimated at 2.1 million km.

Engineers fuse separate parts of the SWOT satellite in the clean room at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France. Source: JPL / NASA / TAS

said Karen St. Germain, director of TheDepartment of Earth Sciences NASA. This satellite embodies everything we do to improve life on Earth through scientific and technological innovations. The data that innovation delivers is critical to better understanding how Earth’s water, air, and ecosystems interact and how people can thrive on our changing planet.”

The SWOT results will help researchers, policy makers, and land resource managers better assess and plan for events such as floods and droughts. Provide insight into where the water is, where it is coming from and where it is going. Researchers will be able to improve their predictions of river flooding and the effects of drought on lakes and water supplies.

From staging to scientific operations

After separating from the carrier’s second stage, SWOT spent nearly three hours running checks on its instruments and systems, while photovoltaic panels were deployed and telemetry was transmitted to a control center in France. Within four days of launch, the SWOT had begun Extension in different parts of the KaRIn antennawhich would take another four days to complete. According to the mission plans, within eight days of liftoff, the controllers will point SWOT toward the sun by activating the remaining satellite systems.

SWOT will spend six months at an altitude of 857 km in the calibration phase, after which it will raise its orbit to 891 km and begin its science mission.

More information

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, manages the US portion of the project. NASA supplied the KaRIn instrument, a GPS receiver, a laser retroreflector, and a dual-beam microwave radiometer, and it manages operations from the ground. The French National Center for Space Studies provided the system Doppler orbits and integrated radiometric positioning by satellite (DORIS), an antenna that will collect the signals of about fifty radio beacons distributed on the Earth’s surface, altimeter Poseidon Dual frequency (developed by Thales Alenia Space), the KaRIn radio frequency subsystem (together with Thales Alenia Space and with support from the British Space Agency), the satellite platform and the ground operations control sector. KaRIn’s high-power transmitter system was supplied by the Canadian Space Agency. Finally, launch management was delegated to Service program launch From NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Resources: NASA;; CNES extension.

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