NASA and CNES Sign Mission Agreement for New Joint Satellite

NASA CNES SWOT Singing

NASA’s Charles Bolden and CNES’s Jean-Yves Le Gall Signing the SWOT agreement in Washington on Friday, May 2, 2014. Photo: NASA.

[Via Satellite 05-05-2014] NASA has signed an agreement with the French Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to build, launch and control the world’s first global spacecraft for the purpose of surveying Earth’s surface water and mapping ocean surface height. NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed the agreement on Friday, May 2, 2014 at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. This move is the first step in implementing the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, which was created by the two agencies in 2009 with plans to launch by 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 Bolden. “The knowledge we’ll gain from SWOT will help decision makers better analyze, anticipate and act to influence events that will affect us and future generations.”

This SWOT satellite will survey 90 percent of the Earth’s surface, primarily studying lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans to help improve freshwater management and aid in ocean circulation models, as well as models for weather and climate predictions. The satellite will eventually produce high-resolution measurements of the ocean’s surface at 10 times the resolution of current technologies, which will permit scientists to study small-scale features such as heat and carbon levels within the ocean and atmosphere. Scientists will also be able to better compute the velocity and energy of ocean circulation.

For the mission, NASA will provide the SWOT payload module, the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, the Microwave Radiometer (MR) with its antenna, a laser retro-reflector array, a GPS receiver payload, ground support and launch services. CNES will provide the SWOT spacecraft bus, the KaRIn instrument’s Radio Frequency Unit (RFU), the dual frequency Ku/C-band nadir altimeter, the Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) receiver package, satellite command and control and data processing infrastructure.

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