SpaceX rocket Today (16) took off carrying a satellite, built by the United States and France, designed to conduct the first global survey of the Earth’s surface water, a mission that should shed new light on the mechanisms and consequences of climate change.
The Falcon 9 Booster, owned and operated by Elon Musk’s commercial rocket company, lit up the pre-dawn skies along the California coast as it lifted off from the launch pad just before 4 a.m. local time at the United States Space Force Base in Vandenberg.
The liftoff, directed by the NASA team, was shown live on a broadcast from the US space agency.
The satellite, its Payload, Surface Water and Ocean Topography, or SWOT, incorporates advanced microwave radar technology to collect high-resolution measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers in more than 90% of the globe.
The data, collected from radar operations at least twice every 21 days, will be used to improve ocean circulation models, enhance weather and climate forecasts, and help manage fresh water supplies in drought-stricken regions, the researchers said.
The SUV-sized satellite components were primarily built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the French space agency CNES.
Nearly 20 years in development by the US space agency with contributions from colleagues in Canada and the UK, SWOT is one of 15 missions listed by the National Research Council as must-do projects for NASA in the next decade.
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