Watch Water Studying Satellite Unfold in Space

Watch Water Studying Satellite Unfold in Space, Image/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The U.S.-European Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite was recently launched into space. After deploying its solar arrays while in Earth orbit, the satellite’s two cameras captured the unfurling of its large mast and KaRIn antenna panels of the spacecraft’s main science instrument. The antennas were successfully deployed over four days, a process that was completed on December 22:

“The antennas successfully deployed over four days, a process that was completed on Dec. 22. The two cameras focused on the KaRIn antennas captured the mast extending out from the spacecraft and locking in place but stopped short of capturing the antennas being fully deployed (a milestone the team confirmed with telemetry data.)

Thirty-three feet (10 meters) apart, at either end of the mast, the two antennas belong to the groundbreaking Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument. Designed to capture precise measurements of the height of water in Earth’s freshwater bodies and the ocean, KaRIn will see eddies, currents, and other ocean features less than 13 miles (20 kilometers) across. It will also collect data on lakes and reservoirs larger than 15 acres (62,500 square meters) and rivers wider than 330 feet (100 meters) across..

KaRIn will do this by bouncing radar pulses off the surface of water on Earth and receiving the signals with both of those antennas, collecting data along a swath that’s 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide on either side of the satellite.”

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