Space company SpaceX launched a large research satellite into orbit on Friday. Scientists will use the artificial satellite to conduct research on, among other things, droughts, floods and coastal erosion due to climate change.
The satellite is named SWOT (Topography of surface waters and oceans) and was developed by the American and French space agencies NASA and CNES. Canada and the United Kingdom support the project financially.
The artificial moon, the size of a large car, will measure the water level over more than 90% of the Earth’s surface. This allows scientists to follow water currents. This knowledge can, for example, be used to designate risk areas susceptible to flooding or extreme drought.
Scientists expect the satellite to also reveal how fast sea levels are rising. Sea level rise is causing coastlines to shift and creating flood risks in more and more areas.
The SWOT satellite orbits the earth at an altitude of 890 kilometers. Due to this great height, the device has a good view of the land. SWOT takes three weeks to map almost all of the water on earth.
By repeating this process regularly, for example, the currents in the water become visible. The fact-finding mission is expected to last three years.
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