Saturday, June 10, 2023

Satellite to find hidden freshwater reservoirs from space

While the world is made up of 75 percent water, only a limited fraction of it can be used and consumed in daily life. Limited information and in some cases no information about active river systems in the world may prove to be detrimental to a world already facing water crisis.

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite will map the planet to identify these hidden sources. The satellite will provide a better understanding of Earth’s water cycle, aid in better management of water resources, and expand knowledge of how climate change affects lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

Jointly developed by NASA and the French space agency Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the mission will fill a huge gap in data about the sources of water on the planet.

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What is SWOT Mission?

The satellite will measure the height of water bodies on the surface of the Earth. It will also be equipped to see features like eddies less than 100 km into the sea. NASA said the SWOT will also measure lakes larger than 15 acres and rivers more than 330 feet wide by more than 95 percent of Earth’s surface.

The spacecraft will measure the height, extent, or surface area of ​​water, whether in a lake, river, or reservoir. This vital information will enable scientists to calculate how much water moves through bodies of freshwater.

Satellite to find hidden freshwater reservoirs from space

Engineers integrate the individual parts of the SWOT satellite at a Thales Alenia Space Clean Room facility in Cannes, France. (Photo: NASA)

“The current database may contain information on a few thousand lakes around the world. SWOT will push that number to between 2 million and 6 million,” Tamlin Pavelsky, NASA freshwater science lead for SWOT, said in a statement.

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Scientists have long speculated that climate change is accelerating Earth’s water cycle. Warmer temperatures mean that there may be more water (in the form of water vapor) in the atmosphere, making rain storms stronger than an area can typically see. The change could have major consequences for global agriculture and food production.

“As Earth’s water cycle accelerates, predicting future extreme events such as floods and droughts requires monitoring changes in water supply from the ocean and both water demand and land use. All on Earth SWOT’s world view on surface water will give us exactly that,” said SWOT program scientist Nadya Vinogradova Schiffer.

The spacecraft will use a Ka-band radar interferometer (KRIN), which bounces radar pulses 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 the planet’s roughly 120-kilometer-wide region at once.

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“The basic idea of ​​SWOT dates back to the late 1990s, but engineering that concept into reality takes a lot of time and effort,” Pavelsky said.

The SWOT mission is scheduled to launch in November from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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