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Satellite launched to map, monitor Earth’s waterways


The satellite was launched aboard a SpaceX rocket. Associated Press/Photo by Keegan Barber

Satellite launched to map, monitor Earth’s waterways

NASA launched a satellite Friday to survey the Earth’s oceans, lakes, and rivers. The craft lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base aboard a SpaceX rocket and is expected to orbit the planet for three years as part of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography project. Space agencies from the United States, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom partnered on the $1.2 billion project that will measure the levels of the water on more than 90 percent of Earth’s surface. NASA officials say detailed measurements can help scientists track water flow and identify areas at high risk of droughts or floods.

How else will this satellite be used? Scientists say the craft’s measurements and images could provide insight into water resources around the world. The data could also show changes in coastlines and help researchers plan for potential natural disasters and environmental shifts. The satellite will cover the globe at least once every three weeks.

Dig deeper: Listen to Paul Butler and Myrna Brown’s report on The World and Everything in It about the next phase of America’s space exploration.


Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.


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