The Canadian Space Agency awarded a $3.8M contract to Communications & Power Industries Canada (CPI) to build components for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.

SWOT will survey 90 per cent 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. The scientific data will contribute to improving ocean circulation models, weather and climate predictions, and the management of water as a strategic resource. SWOT supports the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda by fostering leading-edge technologies as well as global science excellence. The mission will leverage Canada’s world-renowned innovations and scientific expertise in remote sensing technology.

A component of SWOT’s mission will be to support water management and the monitoring of climate change effects on lakes and rivers in Canada, with a particular focus on northern water bodies. The NASA led project has a number of aims, including to improve the estimation of surface water availability, understanding water-related hazards, and to gain more knowledge about the global water cycle.

The Canadian contribution to this international mission is a set of extended interaction klystrons (EIKs) built by CPI, the only company in the world with a proven record in building and flying this sophisticated device. The high-power EIKs will be used to generate microwave pulses to collect precise water measurements. In exchange, Canadian scientists will have early access to SWOT data and scientific expertise.

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, said of the mission: “The technologies designed for today’s space program are helping to shape the innovations of tomorrow, including new ways of fighting climate change. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission ensures our country’s space industry remains dynamic and competitive in order to drive broader economic growth.”

The Canadian SWOT science team, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, will be studying hydrology and oceanography data from this mission to better understand changes in terrestrial waters and oceans across the country.

The satellite is currently scheduled for launch in April 2021. Visit the SWOT mission page for more details.

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