SpaceX has bagged a $112-million contract from NASA, as it plans to send the Surface Water and Ocean Topography into orbit. In 2021, the water-monitoring satellite will be sent from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. SWOT is believed to carry out the first global survey of surface water on Earth.
SWOT will track how water bodies change over time and take high-resolution ocean measurements. The satellite is expected to survey around 90% of the planet twice in every 21 days. It will also gather data related to reservoirs, rivers and lakes.
According to NASA, it will play a significant role in managing freshwater resources around the globe. It is also expected to improve predictions related to climate and weather. NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales will jointly develop and manage the SWOT spacecraft.
The $112-million contract should benefit SpaceX which saw a $300-million satellite explode along with a Falcon rocket in September. With the explosion of the Amos-6 satellite, Mark Zuckerberg's plans to provide internet services in Africa suffered a setback. According to NASA, Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world.
According to Stephanie Hampton, the society depends on surface water for several human uses. The director of Washington State University's Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach in Pullman says it is used not only for drinking, but for irrigation, energy production and manufacturing as well.
Some notice the irony of this $112-million contract for SpaceX, as President-elect Donald Trump plans to cut NASA's budget. Bob Walker, one of Trump advisers, wants NASA to stop wasting money on "politically correct environmental monitoring," CNBC reported. According to him, Trump would prefer NASA to focus only on space exploration, as the Trump administration is likely to fund other agencies for earth science research.