(ORDO NEWS) — An international satellite mission led by NASA is set to lift off from southern California early Thursday as part of a major earth science project to conduct a comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers for the first time.
Named Swot, short for “surface water and ocean topography,” the advanced radar satellite is designed to give scientists unprecedented insight into the life-giving fluid that covers 70% of the planet, shedding new light on the mechanics and effects of climate change.
If all goes according to plan, the SUV-sized satellite will provide research data within a few months.
The satellite uses advanced radar technology that scientists say will collect high-resolution elevation and surface measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers over 90% of the globe.
“This is truly the first mission to observe almost all of the water on the planet’s surface,” said Ben Hamlington, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who also leads the agency’s sea level change team.
One of the main thrusts of the mission is to study how the oceans absorb atmospheric heat and carbon dioxide in a natural process that reduces global temperatures and climate change.
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