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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launched Into Orbit To Study Earth’s Surface Water


SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched into orbit to study Earth's water surface

The upper stage of Falcon 9, carrying the satellite, reached orbit within nine minutes.

Los Angeles, USA:

A SpaceX rocket launched early Friday carrying a US-French satellite designed to conduct an unprecedented global survey of Earth’s surface waters, a mission expected will shed light on the mechanics and consequences of climate change.

The Falcon 9 booster owned and operated by Elon Musk’s commercial rocket company lit up the pre-dawn sky along the California coast as it roared off from launch at US Space Force Base Vandenberg , about 260 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles.

The takeoff, directed by NASA, was shown live on the US space agency’s webcast.

The upper stage of Falcon 9, carrying the satellite, reached orbit within nine minutes. Moments earlier, the reusable lower stage detached from the rocket and flew back to Earth, generating sonic booms before slowing down to make a gentle landing at base.

The mission’s payload, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite, or SWOT, was launched into its own initial orbit about 530 miles (850 km) from the planet less than an hour after launch. Video from the camera mounted on the upper stage of the rocket shows the SWOT drift.

About half an hour later, the mission control division of the French space agency CNES in Toulouse, France, reported that they had recovered the first full signal from the satellite, confirming that the SWOT systems were working. motion, NASA said.

At the heart of the satellite is advanced microwave radar technology to collect high-definition measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers across 90% of the globe.

The data, compiled from radar scans at least twice over 21 days, will be used to enhance models of ocean circulation, supporting weather and climate forecasting, the researchers say. while assisting in the management of fresh water supplies in drought-stricken areas.

The components of the SUV-sized satellite were built primarily by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles and CNES.

Nearly 20 years of development with contributions from partners in Canada and the UK, SWOT is one of 15 tasks listed by the National Research Council as projects NASA should undertake over the next decade.

Climatic Highlights?

A key driver of the mission is to explore how the oceans absorb atmospheric heat and carbon dioxide, in a process that naturally regulates global temperatures and helps mitigate climate change.

The oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, scientists estimate.

Scanning seas from orbit, the SWOT will be able to measure small differences in surface elevation around smaller currents and eddies where most of the heat and carbon depletion of the oceans is thought to be. happening.

Understanding that mechanism will help answer a key question – what is the tipping point at which the oceans begin to release, rather than absorb, large amounts of heat back into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing global warming instead of limiting it.

The ability of SWOT to distinguish much smaller surface features over much larger areas than in previous satellites will also help study the effects of sea level rise on coastal areas. .

Freshwater bodies are another major focus of SWOT, equipped to view the full lengths of nearly all rivers over 330 feet (100 meters) wide, as well as more than 1 million large lakes and reservoirs more than a few blocks of New York City.

Taking a multiple inventory of Earth’s water resources during the three-year SWOT mission will allow researchers to better track fluctuations in the planet’s rivers and lakes over the course of seasonal changes and events. big weather.

SWOT’s radar engine operates at the Ka-band frequencies of the microwave spectrum, allowing its scans to penetrate clouds and shadows and map the view in two dimensions.

Previous studies of water bodies relied on data taken at specific points or from satellites that could only track measurements along a one-way street.

The satellite is expected to start producing research data within months.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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