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Nasa mission will give unprecedented view of Earth’s surface water

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A Nasa-led international satellite mission was set for blastoff from southern California early on Thursday as part of a major earth science project to conduct a comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers for the first time.

Dubbed Swot, short for “surface water and ocean topography”, the advanced radar satellite is designed to give scientists an unprecedented view of the life-giving fluid covering 70% of the planet, shedding new light on the mechanics and consequences of climate change.

A Falcon 9 rocket, owned and operated by billionaire Elon Musk’s commercial launch company SpaceX, was set to lift off before dawn on Thursday from the Vandenberg US space force base, about 170 miles (275km) north-west of Los Angeles, to carry Swot into orbit.

If all goes as planned, the SUV-sized satellite will produce research data within several months.

Nearly 20 years in development, Swot incorporates advanced microwave radar technology that scientists say will collect height-surface measurements of oceans, lakes, reservoirs and rivers in high-definition detail over 90%…

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