US: The French space agency, Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), and NASA have signed a formal work-share agreement on the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) altimetry satellite. CNES and NASA will jointly build, launch, and operate a spacecraft that would conduct the first-ever global survey of Earth's surface water and to map ocean surface height in detail. The satellite will be launched in 2020.
|NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, left, and Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall sign an agreement to move from feasibility studies to implementation of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.|
The agreement, signed by CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, calls for CNES to provide the satellite’s platform, a radio-frequency unit for the US-built Ka-band Radar Interferometer, a Doppler positioning instrument and an altimeter. In addition, France will provide the SWOT mission’s satellite command-and-control centre, a network of data-reception stations and the French ground segment.
The two agencies began initial joint studies on the mission in 2009 and plan to complete preliminary design activities in 2016, with launch planned in 2020. According to estimates, Le Gall the total French contribution is valued at about 174 million euros, or $238 million, and is being partly financed through the French government’s ‘Investing in the Future’ bond issue.
NASA will provide the satellite’s launch vehicle, the US ground segment and the satellite’s payload — the radar interferometer, dubbed KaRIN; a radiometer and GPS receiver.