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Canada Commits Next Round of Funds for Mission Which Will Conduct the First-Ever Global Survey of Earth’s Surface Water

Artist illustration of Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

Everyone knows how critical water is in the daily lives of everyone on our planet. That’s why the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission which will conduct the first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water is important and why Canada is contributing to the mission.

The SWOT mission, a joint mission between NASA and the French Space Agency (CNES), with a contribution by Canada, is a concept that’s been over a decade in the planning. It was 2007 when the U.S. National Research Council identified the SWOT mission as one of 15 missions that should be pursued in its Decadal Survey.

According to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) “SWOT will survey 90% of the Earth’s surface water, observe the fine details of the ocean’s surface topography, and measure how lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans are changing over time.”

Canadian contribution to the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.
Canadian contribution to the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

Canada first committed funds to the mission on August 18, 2014 with the announcement of $3.3 million so that Communications & Power Industries Canada Inc. (CPI Canada) could design modifications and development of a 35 GHz Ka-band Extended Interaction Klystron (EIK). The EIK instrument is a satellite radar component that will generate microwave pulses which collect precise water measurements.

CPI Canada, of Georgetown, Ontario, pioneered the EIK technology and has sold more than 1,000 commercial units for use in millimeter wave radar, communications systems and scientific applications.

SWOT integrated measurement approach.
SWOT integrated measurement approach. Credit: NASA, CNES.

Joe Caldarelli, CEO of CPI Canada said when the first contract was announced in 2014 that “scientists’ current ability to measure the changing amount of water held in lakes is limited, as only 15 percent of Earth’s lakes are presently measured from space. The SWOT mission will inventory more than one million bodies of water in Canada, and it is expected to yield a better understanding of how climate-induced changes can impact freshwater resources worldwide.”

The CSA follow-on contract awarded to CPI Canada yesterday is worth $3.8 million and will be used to build the components developed from the design phase.

CPI Canada has previously provided a 94 GHz EIK  for the cloud-profiling radar on-board NASA’s CloudSat mission, another contribution made by Canada.

Canada’s contribution will allow Canadian scientists, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, access to data collected by SWOT. As well Canadian scientists are a partner of the mission’s Science Working Group.

It was just last November that NASA announced that the SWOT spacecraft would launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2021.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc, CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef U.S., advisor and co-founder of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, and director and co-founder of MaxQ Accelerator Inc. Previously he was the founder of Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine which he sold.