A week after SpaceX first sent four astronauts to the International Space Station, SpaceX on Saturday launched the first of two satellites to monitor sea level rise for the next decade.
NASA’s Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich oceanography satellite – a joint venture with the European Space Agency – embarked on a five and a half year mission to « collect the most accurate data to date on global sea levels and the position of our oceans » in response to climate change. , according to NASA.
The mission will also collect information on air temperature and humidity in order to improve weather forecasts and climate models.
The satellite flew into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched at 12:17 p.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. m. ET Saturday. The satellite was named in honor of the late director of NASA’s Department of Earth Sciences. It is the first launch on the west coast in a year and a half.
A second satellite is expected to be launched in the coming years. Once in orbit, according to NASA, each satellite will capture sea level measurements « down to the centimeter for 90% of the world’s oceans ».
Recent efforts to monitor sea level rise follow the launch of the U in 2016. S.. . -European satellite Jason-3, which NASA says is currently providing observations of the topography of the ocean.
The NASA satellite series has been monitoring global sea levels since 2001, according to NASA. While they were able to track climate phenomena like El Niño and La Niña, the satellites were unable to measure minor changes in sea level, NASA said. The new satellites can acquire measurements with higher resolution.
Sea level rise has accelerated over the past 25 years, and scientists believe it will accelerate even further in the years to come, according to NASA. This surge will transform coastlines and how floods and storms will affect cities.
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Scientists have traditionally measured sea levels with tide gauges along the coast, NASA project scientist Josh Willis said in a video.
« These are great records. Some of them go back more than a hundred years and give us a historical perspective. But they’re only at those individual points, and the oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, « he said. « So if you want to see the whole thing, you have to do it from a bird’s eye view. «
The Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich – almost 17 feet long and 2. 628 pounds – uses its positioning systems to measure sea level, Willis said.
« This thing has a radar that tells us how far the satellite is from the surface of the ocean, so it bounces off and measures the return time, » he said. « And then there are a number of positioning systems. So if you know where the satellite is and how far it is from the water, these two pieces of information can help you determine how high the ocean is. «
The satellite orbits 830 miles above the earth and makes about 13 orbits per day, moving at 4. 5 miles per second according to NASA.
NASA, SpaceX, Sea Level Rise, Falcon 9, Vandenberg Air Force Base
World News – US – NASA satellite to monitor sea level rise, effects of climate change over next decade
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