5. This mission is paving the way for future NASA Earth missions while also building on a long-standing international partnership.
With its innovative technology and commitment to engaging a diverse community of people who plan to use the mission’s data, SWOT is laying a path for future Earth-observing missions. Measurements from SWOT – and the tools to support researchers in analyzing the information – will be free and accessible. This will help to foster research and applications activities by a wide range of users, including those who may not usually have the opportunity to access this knowledge.
Such an ambitious mission is possible because of a decades-long collaboration between NASA and CNES that started in the 1980s to monitor Earth’s ocean. This partnership pioneered the use of a space-based instrument called an altimeter to study sea level with the launch of the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in 1992. The NASA-CNES partnership has continued uninterrupted for three decades and has expanded to encompass work with other agencies, including the CSA and the UK Space Agency for SWOT, as well as ESA (European Space Agency), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the European Commission for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which launched in November 2020.
More About the Mission
SWOT is being jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the CSA and the UK Space Agency. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA is providing the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, a two-beam microwave radiometer, and NASA instrument operations. CNES is providing 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 control segment. CSA is providing the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA is providing the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
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