Watch with NASA as we launch an international mission to understand the Earth’s water like never before.

SWOT, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, will survey nearly all water on the Earth’s surface for the first time. Tracking how water levels rise and fall over time, SWOT will study ocean features at ten times the resolution of current technologies and measure more than a million lakes and rivers around the globe.

The observations we make with SWOT will help scientists improve flood forecasts, build better models for monitoring droughts, and make more precise predictions for rising sea levels. SWOT is a collaborative effort by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency.

SWOT is scheduled to lift off at 6:46 a.m. EST (1146 UTC) Friday, Dec. 16 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. NASA’s live launch coverage begins at 6 a.m. (1100 UTC).

Learn more about SWOT:

Credit: NASA

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