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Watch The Launch Replay. NASA’s New Satellite Can Measure Just About All The Water On Planet Earth

An artist's rendition of NASA's SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite floating above a dramatic photo of planet Earth.
An illustration of NASA's SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite.
(Courtesy NASA/ Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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Early Friday, a SpaceX rocket dropped off the new NASA–CNES SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite more than 500 miles above Earth. It’ll be able to scan and measure just about every river, lake, reservoir, and ocean on the planet every 21 days.

Why it matters: The granular scans will allow detailed tracking of everything from sea level rise along our coasts to how much fresh water we have left in our reservoirs and the amount of water flowing through the most remote rivers on the planet. Ultimately, measurements like these should help researchers better understand things like the impacts of climate change on our planet’s water cycle.

Watch the launch: NASA had full coverage this morning of the launch and mission goals. This puts you at about a minute before the launch countdown begins but the whole broadcast is full of information:

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The backstory: SWOT’s been in development since 2007 and is a joint project between NASA and the Centre National d'Études Spatiales, the French space agency. It cost more than $1 billion to complete.

What's next: Data from SWOT should be available no later than the fall of 2023, according to JPL.