To identify these hidden sources, the US agency has launched a joint mission with the French space agency Center National d’Études Spatial (CNES). For this, both the agencies will prepare a Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite map of the earth. According to NASA, this satellite will provide a better understanding of the Earth’s water cycle. Apart from this, the satellite will also help in better management of water resources. It will also provide an in-depth look at how climate change affects lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
The satellite will measure the height of water bodies on the Earth’s surface. It will also work to see features like eddies less than 100 kilometers in the ocean. NASA says SWOT will also measure more than 95 percent of Earth’s lakes larger than 15 acres and rivers more than 330 feet wide. The spacecraft will measure the height of the water in the lake, river or reservoir as well as measure their extent or surface area. This vital information will enable scientists to calculate how much water moves through freshwater bodies.
“The current database may contain information on a few thousand lakes worldwide. SWOT will push that number to between 2 million and 6 million,” Tamlyn Pavelski, NASA freshwater science lead for SWOT, said in a statement.
NASA has a blog The spacecraft will use a Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn), which bounces a radar pulse off the surface of the water and receives the return signal with two antennas at the same time. The radar will be able to collect information about a roughly 120-km-wide area of the planet at a time.
The SWOT mission is scheduled to launch in November from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.