A satellite flies over a square section of Earth as radar beams are sent down to the surface from either side of its solar panels. The radar beams bounce back up to the spacecraft, which turns the data into a heat map of the ocean surface below.


Friday, December 16, 3:46 a.m. PST (6:46 a.m. EST)


Vandenberg Space Force Base, California

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Update: Dec. 15, 2022 – NASA, the French space agency, and SpaceX are now targeting 3:46 a.m. PST (6:46 a.m. EST) on Friday, Dec.16, for the launch of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite. Visit NASA's SWOT launch blog for the latest updates.

As crucial as water is to human life, did you know that no one has ever completed a global survey of Earth’s surface water? That is about to change with the launch of the SWOT mission, scheduled for December 15.

SWOT, which stands for Surface Water Ocean Topography, will use a state-of-the-art radar to measure the elevation of water in major lakes, rivers, wetlands, and reservoirs. It will also provide an unprecedented level of detail on the ocean surface. This data will help scientists track how these bodies of water are changing over time and improve weather and climate models.

Get the latest news and launch updates on the mission website.

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