Watch as the latest water satellite is deployed in space

Watch as the latest water satellite is deployed in space

This illustration shows the SWOT spacecraft with its antenna mast and solar arrays fully deployed. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite was launched into Earth orbit Friday, Dec. 16, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California, and engineers are working to prepare the mission to begin measuring the height of water on more than 90% of the Earth’s surface, providing for the first time a high-definition survey of our planet’s water.

But before it can do that, the satellite would need to deploy its large mast and antenna arrays (see above) after successfully deploying the solar panel arrays that power the spacecraft. The mission monitors and controls the satellite using telemetry data, but also equipped the spacecraft with four custom commercial cameras to record the action.

The solar panels fully deployed shortly after launch, taking about 10 minutes.

Two cameras aboard the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite captured the main mast and antenna arrays of the spacecraft’s main science instrument deploying over four days, a process that was completed on 22 of December 2022. The poles, which unfold from the opposite. sides of the spacecraft, it can be seen extending from the spacecraft and locking into place, but the cameras stopped before capturing the antennas at the ends of the fully deployed masts (a landmark that team confirmed with telemetry data). This video places the two camera views side by side. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES

The antennas were successfully deployed over four days, a process that was completed on 22 December. The two cameras focused on the KaRIn antennas captured the pole extending from the spacecraft and locking into place, but stopped short of capturing the antennas as they were fully deployed (a milestone the team confirm with telemetry data.)

Thirty-three feet (10 meters) apart, at each end of the mast, the two antennas belong to the innovative Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument. Designed to capture precise measurements of water height in Earth’s freshwater bodies and in the ocean, KaRIn will see eddies, currents and other ocean features less than 13 miles (20 kilometers) in diameter. It will also collect data on lakes and reservoirs larger than 15 acres (62,500 square meters) and rivers larger than 330 feet (100 meters) wide.

This series of images shows the deployment of the solar arrays that power the International Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite. The mission, led by NASA and the French space agency Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), captured the roughly 10-minute process with two of the four commercial cameras on board the satellite (the same type that used to capture NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars). SWOT was launched on December 16, 2022 at 3:46 am PST from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the arrays began deployment at 5:01 am PST. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES

KaRIn will do this by bouncing radar pulses off the water’s surface on Earth and receiving the signals with these two antennas, collecting data along a 50-kilometer-wide swath on either side of the satellite.

The SWOT data it provides will help researchers and decision makers address some of the most pressing climate issues of our time and help communities prepare for global warming.

Summons: Watch the latest water satellite to be deployed in space (2022, December 29) retrieved December 30, 2022 from -unfold-space.html

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