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SWOT launch scheduled for December 15, 2022

The launch of SWOT, the largest oceanography and hydrology satellite mission in the last 10 years, is scheduled for December 15, 2022 from California. From April to June 2023, over 30 field experiments will be conducted by the SWOT-AdAC scientific consortium to compare satellite and in situ data during the fast sampling phase. 

SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite in orbit with its solar panels and KaRIn instrument antennas deployed. Credits: CNES

The launch of the SWOT satellite is scheduled at 3:46 AM PST (12:46 PM CET) on Thursday, December 15, 2022, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This international mission will provide high-definition data on fresh and salt water over 90% of the Earth’s surface. It is the largest oceanography and hydrology satellite mission in the last 10 years and for the next 10 years.

The SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) mission will bring together two scientific communities: oceanographers and hydrologists. It will measure the height in the Earth’s freshwater bodies and in the ocean, which will help understand how the ocean influences climate change, how global warming affects lakes, rivers and reservoirs, and how communities can better prepare for disasters, such as floods.

The first six months of the mission will include a calibration and validation (CalVal) phase of the satellite, during which the satellite will fly in a one-day repeat orbit with reduced spatial coverage but improved temporal resolution. During this fast sampling phase SWOT’s ascending and descending trajectories will intersect at crossovers, providing a higher temporal resolution.

The crossovers represent a unique opportunity to track the rapid evolution of fine-scale ocean dynamics. This is why during the months of April to June 2023, over 30 missions are scheduled in different seas and oceanographic basins, as well as on coastal zones worldwide. These experiments are brought together in SWOT-AdAC (Adopt a Crossover Consortium), a forum for sharing information on how to interpret future SWOT data and for designing SWOT-compliant experimental protocols. SWOT-AdAC is endorsed by CLIVAR.

The SWOT mission is a collaboration between CNES and NASA – with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the British Space Agency. The satellite was assembled, integrated and tested at the Thales Alenia Space facility in Cannes, France.

To allow as many people as possible to follow the launch of SWOT, CNES and NASA are broadcasting the event.

Watch the launch with CNES

CNES live coverage of the launch will start at 12:15 PM (CET) on Twitch and YouTube. More information on CNES’s website at: https://cnes.fr/fr/swot-vigie-des-eaux

Watch the launch with NASA

NASA live coverage of the launch will begin at 3 AM PST on NASA YouTube, Twitter, the NASA app. More information on NASA’s website at: https://www.nasa.gov/live