NASA set to launch first global water survey satellite

Source: The post is based on the article “NASA set to launch first global water survey satellite” published in The Hindu on 20th December 2022

What is the News?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite from Southern California by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

What is Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)? 

SWOT is an advanced radar satellite jointly developed and operated by NASA and CNES, the French space agency in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and UK Space Agency (UKSA).

Objectives: 1) To make the first global survey of the Earth’s surface water, 2) To observe the fine details of the ocean surface topography and 3) To measure how terrestrial surface water bodies change over time.

Features: The satellite incorporates advanced microwave radar technology to collect high-definition measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers over 90% of the globe.

What is the significance of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission?

Firstly, SWOT will provide a significantly clearer picture of Earth’s freshwater bodies. It will provide data on more than 95% of the world’s lakes. Currently, freshwater researchers have reliable measurements for only a few thousand lakes around the world. 

Secondly, it will also be able to improve the accuracy of flood forecasts and provide scientists with more precise monitoring of impending droughts, rising sea levels, and life on Earth.

Thirdly, it will help explore how oceans absorb atmospheric heat and carbon dioxide in a process that naturally regulates global temperatures and has helped to minimize climate change.

– Oceans are estimated to have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat trapped in Earth’s atmosphere by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

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