PIA26100: SWOT's Detailed View of Global Sea Level
 Target Name:  Earth
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  SWOT 
 Spacecraft:  SWOT
 Instrument:  KaRIn 
 Product Size:  1920 x 1080 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26100.tif (2.393 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26100.jpg (137.4 kB)

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This animation shows global sea level data collected by the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite during its first 21-day science orbit, which it completed from July 26 to Aug. 16, 2023.

Red and orange indicate ocean heights that were higher than the global mean sea surface height, while blue represents lower-than-the mean. Sea level differences can highlight ocean currents, like the Gulf Stream coming off the U.S. East Coast or the Kuroshio current off the east coast of Japan. Increased sea surface heights can also indicate regions of relatively warmer water – like the eastern part of the equatorial Pacific Ocean during an El Niño – because water expands as it warms.

The SWOT science team made the measurements using the spacecraft's Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument. With two antennas spread 33 feet (10 meters) apart on a boom, KaRIn produces a pair of data swaths (tracks visible in the animation) as it circles the globe, bouncing radar pulses off the water's surface to collect surface-height measurements.

Launched on Dec. 16, 2022, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California, SWOT is now in its operations phase, measuring the height of nearly all water on Earth's surface. The satellite will provide one of the most detailed, comprehensive views yet of the planet's oceans and fresh water lakes and rivers, collecting data that will be used for research and other purposes.

SWOT was jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA provided the KaRIn instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, a two-beam microwave radiometer, and NASA instrument operations. CNES provided the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, the dual frequency Poseidon altimeter (developed by Thales Alenia Space), the KaRIn radio-frequency subsystem (together with Thales Alenia Space and with support from the UK Space Agency), the satellite platform, and ground operations. CSA provided the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA provided the launch vehicle and the agency's Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, managed the associated launch services.

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