Reportedly, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has successfully carried out the launch of NASA’s (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) satellite to measure sea-levels on Earth.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which carried NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, cited sources with relevant information.
The first stage of the rocket landed back to the launch site and is likely to be reused. Meanwhile, the satellite was released over an hour later from the second stage and deployed its panels to make first contact with the controllers.
For those uninitiated, the US-European satellite has been named after a former NASA official who had played a major role while developing space-based oceanography.
If sources are to be believed, the primary instrument of the satellite is an exceptionally accurate radar altimeter which can bounce energy off the surface of the sea while flying over the Earth’s oceans. It is particularly designed to offer decades-long measurement of sea-levels across the globe.
Other equipment on board will reportedly help in measuring how radio signals pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, offering information such as humidity and atmospheric temperature, further enabling for improved weather forecasts.
It is to be noted that sea surface levels are usually affected by cooling or heating of water, which allows scientist to use altimeter to analyze weather-influencing conditions. These measurements also play a key role for understanding the rise in sea levels owing to global warming.
In this context, NASA’s Earth Science Division Director Karen St. Germain was reported saying that it is critical to understand how the sea-level changes over time since 70% of the Earth is made up of ocean.
An identical twin, the Sentinel-6B satellite, is set to be launched in the year 2025 in order to ensure continuity. Sources confirmed that the combined mission cost of the two US-European satellites is worth USD 1.1 billion.
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