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U.S.-French Satellite Launched To Map Most Of Earth’s Waters

U.S.-French Satellite SWOT [Photo: Shropshire Star]
U.S.-French Satellite SWOT [Photo: Shropshire Star]

On December 16, a U.S.-French satellite was launched into orbit that will map most of Earth’s oceans, lakes, and rivers. This launch aboard the SpaceX rocket determined a very successful year for NASA, says

U.S.-French Satellite SWOT

U.S.-French Satellite SWOT

On December 16, the U.S.-French satellite nicknamed SWOT— short for Surface Water and Ocean Topography— launched into orbit. As climate change made droughts, floodings, and coastal erosions worse, the SWOT is needed more than ever. SWOT is a satellite about the size of an SUV and will measure the height of more than 90% of the Earth’s waters. This method will enable scientists to keep track of the flow of the waters and determine potential high-risk areas. SWOT will surround the Earth from the Arctic to Antarctica at least once every three weeks. SWOT will also launch radar pulses ateart Earth whose signals will bounce back and be received by antennas. With this, currents, whirlpools, and varying temperatures of water can be detected.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s old satellites are not able to detect such characteristics of water. The older satellites’ measurements are not as detailed as SWOT’s, according to Tamlin Pavelsky of the University of North Carolina. The key feature of SWOT is perhaps the ability of the satellite to reveal the location and the speed of rising sea levels and shift of coastlines. To be able to detect these is important in saving lives and properties. SWOT’s mission is planned to last for three years.

Other Projects of NASA

For the SWOT project, NASA and the French Space Agency collaborated for 20 years with a $1.2 billion budget and some contributions from Britain and Canada. SWOT is the most current among the milestones of NASA. Among the other breakthroughs are photos of the universe from the Webb Space Telescope, the Dart spacecraft’s collision into an asteroid for a planetary defense experiment, and Orion’s recent return from the moon after a test flight, as reported by

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