We have known since mid-December about NASA’s plan to launch a satellite into orbit to map the surface water of our planet. Engineers are working on the project to measure the height of water on a significant portion of the Earth’s surface, providing a comprehensive survey of the planet’s water. This will be the first time that such a detailed survey has been conducted.
After the SWOT satellite deploys its solar panel arrays, which provide power to the spacecraft, it will need to extend its large mast and antenna panels. Phys.org reveals the information.
The process of deploying the antennas on the spacecraft took place over a period of four days and was completed on December 22nd. The deployment process was captured by two cameras that were focused on the antennas, and the footage showed the mast extending from the spacecraft and locking into place. However, the cameras did not capture the antennas fully deploying, which the team confirmed using telemetry data.
Katherine Calvin, the NASA chief scientist and senior climate advisor, explained as Space.com quotes:
As it [Earth] gets warmer, the oceans are absorbing a lot of that heat. So a better understanding that mixing process of the ocean will help us understand how much more heat and carbon we can uptake. That’s really important for understanding future climate change, and how activities by humans influence future climate change.
The Earth’s surface is approximately 70% water, and about 97% of that water is found in the oceans. The remaining 3% of surface water is found in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.
It is important to note that the Earth’s surface water is not static and is constantly moving through the water cycle, which is the process by which water evaporates from the surface, rises into the atmosphere, and then falls back to the surface as precipitation. This process helps to maintain the Earth’s water balance and ensures that there is a constant supply of fresh water.