SpaceX has struck a deal with NASA for launch of space agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.
The launch is scheduled for April 2021 and SpaceX will be using its Falcon 9 rocket to place the satellite in Orbit from the Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA says that the approximate cost of $112 million and this figure includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.
Through the SWOT missions, NASA will be carrying out first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water. The mission will carry out high-resolution ocean measurements and collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time. The satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans, at least twice every 21 days; aid in freshwater management around the world; and improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions.
The science goals of the mission are: provide sea surface heights (SSH) and terrestrial water heights over a 120 km wide swath with a +/-10 km gap at the nadir track; over the deep oceans, provide SSH within each swath with a posting every 2 km x 2 km, and a precision not to exceed 0.8 cm when averaged over the area; over land, download the raw data for ground processing and produce a water mask able to resolve 100 meter wide rivers and lakes of 250 meter2 in size, wetlands, or reservoirs; and cover at least 90 percent of the globe.
The Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIN) instrument on board SWOT will make the mission possible. KaRIN contains two Ka-band SAR antennae at opposite ends of a 10-meter boom with both antennae transmitting and receiving the emitted radar pulses along both sides of the orbital track. The 200-MHz bandwidth achieves cross-track ground resolutions varying from about 10 m in the far swath to about 60 m in the near swath. A resolution of about 2 meters in the along track direction is derived by means of synthetic aperture processing.