(ORDO NEWS) — The French-American SWOT satellite is due to be launched this week. The purpose of the mission is to study the water on the Earth‘s surface and study its influence on the Earth’s climate.
For NASA and the French Space Agency (CNES), who have worked together in this field for 30 years, this is a landmark billion-dollar science mission.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited NASA headquarters in Washington in late November along with US Vice President Kamala Harris.
He spoke about the launch of the SWOT mission to monitor the levels of oceans, lakes and rivers, including in remote areas.
The 2.2-ton SWOT mission will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is scheduled for Thursday.
The main payload of the satellite is the innovative KaRin water height measurement device, a Ka-band radar interferometer.
SWOT will improve weather and climate modeling, monitor coastal erosion and help track how fresh and salt water bodies are changing.
CNES said that SWOT will take into account all phenomena that affect water levels, such as tides and the Sun.
NASA says SWOT will survey almost all water on the Earth’s surface for the first time. It will track water levels, surface areas and amounts in more than 20 million lakes. The entire length of rivers with a width of more than 100 meters will also be observed.
SWOT’s lifetime is estimated at three years, although CNES does not rule out that the mission could last five to eight years.
SWOT is set to be the first satellite to achieve a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere without adding to the amount of space debris, in accordance with the French law on space operations.
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