Space company SpaceX launched a large research satellite into orbit on Friday. Scientists will use the satellite to research, among other things, droughts, floods, and coastal erosion due to climate change.
The satellite is called SWOT (surface waters and ocean topography) It was developed by the American and French space agencies NASA and CNES. Canada and the United Kingdom are financially supporting the project.
The satellite, about the size of a large car, will measure the water level on more than 90 percent of the Earth’s surface. This allows scientists to track water currents. This knowledge can be used, for example, to identify risk areas sensitive to floods or severe droughts.
Scientists expect the satellite will also reveal the rate at which sea levels are rising. Rising sea levels are shifting coastlines and creating flood hazards in more and more areas.
The SWOT satellite orbits the Earth at an altitude of 890 km. Because of this great height, the device has a good view of the ground. SWOT takes three weeks to map almost all of the water on Earth.
By regularly repeating this process, for example, currents in the water become visible. The fact-finding mission is expected to last three years.
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