Reaching Deeper into the Waters for a Safer Future

Human beings tend to excel in various different areas, but to be honest, there is little we do better than growing on a consistent basis. This tendency to improve under all possible situations has notably fetched us some huge milestones, with technology appearing as a rather unique member of the group. The reason why technology’s credentials are so anomalous is largely based on its skill-set, which was unprecedented enough to guide us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, a closer look will reveal how the whole runner was also very much inspired by the way we applied those skills across a real-world environment. The latter component was, in fact, what gave the creation a spectrum-wide presence and made it the ultimate centerpiece of every horizon. Having such an ingenious tool run the show, quite unsurprisingly, scaled up the human experience in every conceivable sense, but even after reaching so far, the prodigious concept of technology will somehow keep on producing all the right goods. This has only turned more and more evident over the recent past, and truth be told, NASA’s latest development should make that trend a lot bigger and better moving forward.

NASA has officially launched a $1.2 billion Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite (SWOT) with an intention of bolstering the world’s knowhow on global water cycle. Sent atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the satellite will bounce radar off the earth water bodies’ surface so to measure and track the elevation, extent, and movement of water, ensuring great detail across every single metric. Interestingly enough, SWOT won’t just focus on those huge, and therefore, easy to observe oceans, but it also cover our wide assortment of lakes, rivers, as well as coastal regions. Now, in order to fulfill such an in-depth operation, you would naturally need a tool that matches its size, and that’s exactly what NASA has conjured up with SWOT. Going by the available details, the satellite features two large solar arrays and a sophisticated Ka-band Radar Interferometer named as KaRin. Apart from that, it also has two antennas that will extend opposite each other, separating at a distance of 30 feet, with each antenna expected to collect data over two 30-mile-wide swaths to either side of the satellite.

“Right now with satellite imagery, we can see pretty well where rivers and lakes are located. We can see their area pretty well,” said Tamlin Pavelsky, SWOT hydrology science lead at the University of North Carolina. “But we don’t do nearly so well in terms of our ability to see the height of the water in them.

Fair enough, by measuring slight differences in the arrival times and angles of the reflected beams, SWOT will be able to deliver a detailed lowdown on the height of the water below. Hold on, there is more. The satellite is further understood to carry an Earth-facing altimeter, which will measure water height directly below the SWOT spacecraft. Also, it comes equipped with a microwave radiometer that will collect relevant data to help scientists in correcting the effects of water vapors, as they can impact radar beams’ propagation.

Make no mistake; we are already operating with ground-based gauges to monitor water in lakes and rivers, but they all remain too expensive for this sort of application, making the said initiative all the more important. Hence, if the whole operation works out just like envisioned, it will have a huge say in modeling climate change over the long term and helping us deal with urgent events like floods and droughts that have their triggers firmly rooted in ocean currents and related weather events.

“This matters a lot whether you’re thinking about a really ecological vulnerable lake, or if you’re thinking about a lake in a rural part of India where people depend on that water for irrigating their crops,” Pavelsky said. “SWOT is going to provide the free and open data that everyone needs in order to be able to track these really important resources.”


Copyrights © 2024. All Right Reserved. Engineers Outlook.