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SpaceX launches NASA’s water topography satellite into orbit

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA's Surface Water and Ocean Topography lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday morning. Image courtesy of NASA

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Friday morning. Image courtesy of NASA

Dec. 16 (UPI) — The Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite launched Friday morning from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The SpaceX 9 rocket lifted off at 6:47 a.m., launching the mission that will provide NASA’s first global survey of water on Earth’s surface, measuring the elevation of water in major lakes, rivers and wetlands while observing ocean features in higher definition than ever before.

The data will help researchers better understand the availability of Earth’s freshwater resources, track regional sea level changes and monitor coastal processes.

“Once in orbit, SWOT will measure the height of water in freshwater bodies and the ocean on more than 90% of Earth’s surface,” NASA officials said in a statement.

“This information will provide insights into how the ocean influences climate change; how a warming world affects lakes, rivers and reservoirs; and how communities can better prepare for disasters, such as floods,” they added.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., leads the U.S. component of the project. NASA provided the GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, a two-beam microwave radiometer, along with instrument operations.

The Falcon 9 passed final tests on Thursday and received a positive weather report for the launch. SpaceX, NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales took part in the launch.

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