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SWOT project will map world’s surface waters at high resolution

Through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Canada is investing in Canadian technology that will play a key role in the first-ever global survey of surface water. The government says the SWOT data will help Canada more efficiently manage our water...


Through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Canada is investing in Canadian technology that will play a key role in the first-ever global survey of surface water. The government says the SWOT data will help Canada more efficiently manage our water resources and prepare for potential flooding. It will also provide measurements for lakes and rivers in Northern Canada for which none currently exist

Set to launch in 2020, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will provide data at 10 times the resolution of current space systems. It will survey 90 per cent of the globe, studying the earth’s lake’s, rivers, reservoirs and oceans.

The initiative is being jointly developed by NASA and the French Space Agency, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and U.K. Space Agency.

In Canada, SWOT will inventory over one million lakes, water bodies and the discharge of all major rivers in Canada. Only 15 per cent of lakes around the world are currently measured from space.

A company based in Georgetown, Ontario, known as Communications and Power Industries Canada will receive $3.3 million through the Canadian Space Agency to develop the Extended Interaction Klystron (EIK), a satellite radar component for the SWOT mission. The EIK technology will generate pulses used to gather the data.

Because of the data’s quality, scientists will be able to study small-scale features such as how heat and carbon are exchanged between the oceans and the atmosphere.