Science

NASA News: SpaceX Has Been Selected To Study Earth's Surface Water

By Monica U Santos , Nov 28, 2016 03:46 AM EST
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SpaceX won a NASA contract to send a $112 million water-monitoring satellite into orbit. This is just after President-elect Donald Trump's advisers suggest they might try to slash NASA's earth science budget. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission satellite is scheduled to be launched in April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

SpaceX Has Been Selected To Study Earth's Surface Water

As reported by CNBC, the plans call for SpaceX to launch the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT), or SWOT, satellite in April 2021 from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. The satellite is the first global survey of Earth's surface water, according to a NASA. It will take high-resolution ocean measurements, and track how bodies of water bodies change over time.

According to NASA's press release, SWOT mission will collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time. The satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth's lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans, at least twice every 21 days, aid in freshwater management around the world, to improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions.

Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by Hawthorne-based SpaceX. “We’re excited to carry this critical science payload into orbit for NASA, the nation and the international community,” SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement. “We appreciate NASA’s partnership and confidence in SpaceX as a launch provider," reported by Daily Breeze.

Why SWOT?

The Surface Water & Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission brings together two communities focused on a better understanding of the world's oceans and its terrestrial surface waters. U.S. and French oceanographers and hydrologists and international partners have joined forces to develop this new space mission to make the first global survey of Earth's surface water

It also observes the fine details of the ocean's surface topography and measures how water bodies change over time. SWOT was one of 15 missions listed in the 2007 National Research Council Decadal Survey of Earth science as missions that NASA should implement in the coming decade.

“This is really a mission to measure surface water across the globe,” said Parag Vaze, NASA’s project manager for the survey mission.

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