NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) have agreed to jointly build, launch and operate a spacecraft to conduct the first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water and to map ocean surface height with unprecedented detail.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall (above) signed an agreement May 2 at NASA headquarters in Washington to move from feasibility studies to implementation of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. The two agencies began initial joint studies on the mission in 2009 and plan to complete preliminary design activities in 2016, with a launch planned in 2020.
“With this mission, NASA builds on a legacy of Earth science research and our strong relationship with CNES to develop new ways to observe and understand our changing climate and water resources,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The knowledge we’ll gain from SWOT will help decisionmakers better analyze, anticipate and act to influence events that will affect us and future generations.”
The satellite will survey 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs and ocean to aid in freshwater management around the world and improve ocean-circulation models and weather and climate predictions.
For more on the mission, see this NASA press release.