How NASA’s newest satellite will monitor lakes and rivers from space

A gold satellite soars above Earth. Below, the sun glints off a body of water. Some clouds dot the sky beneath the satellite.
An illustration of the SWOT satellite in orbit. | Image: CNES

Early tomorrow morning, a new Earth monitoring instrument called the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, or SWOT, will launch into space on a SpaceX rocket. The satellite will take the first global survey of Earth’s freshwater systems from space, observing not only the oceans but also lakes, rivers, and coastal regions. It will be able to measure the height of water in these systems for the first time.

“It will help us understand where water is, where it’s coming from, and where it’s going,” Katherine Calvin, chief scientist and senior climate advisor at NASA, explained in a press conference.

Understanding Earth’s water and how it moves is crucial for both modeling climate change over the long term and dealing with urgent events…

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Author: Georgina Torbet