NASA launches satellite to study water cycle and impacts of climate change

Current Affairs

  • A NASA-led international satellite mission was set for blastoff from Southern California early on a major Earth science project to conduct a comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers for the first time.
  • Dubbed SWOT, short for Surface Water and Ocean Topography, the advanced radar satellite is designed to give scientists an unprecedented view of the life-giving fluid covering 70% of the planet, shedding new light on the mechanics and consequences of climate change.
  • A joint mission led by NASA and the French National Centre for Space Studies, SWOT will bounce radar off the surface of Earth’s water bodies — including many that are too small to be tracked from space by current methods.
  • The satellite will enable scientists to measure and track the elevation, extent, and movement of water across the planet in ground-breaking detail.
  • SWOT will cover the entire Earth’s surface between 78 degrees south and 78 degrees north latitude at least once every 21 days, sending back approximately one terabyte of unprocessed data per day.
  • The spacecraft’s science centerpiece is an innovative instrument called the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn), which marks a major technological advance.
  • KaRIn captures the radar pulse bounced off the surface of the water and receives the return signal using two antennas on either side of the spacecraft.

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