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Without water, there’d be no life on Earth — and yet there’s still so much we don’t know about our planet’s waterways.
But a newly-launched spacecraft called the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite will soon begin mapping the planet’s oceans, rivers, and lakes in unprecedented detail.
But it wasn’t until more recently that the satellite finished positioning its scientific instruments to begin tracking Earth’s changing water levels.
Cameras on board the satellite watched as SWOT unwrapped itself like a golden present — stretching its wings, so to speak, in preparation for the tasks ahead.
Here are 7 views of the new satellite in space:
7. On Dec. 16, just about 50 minutes after launch, the folded-up satellite separated from the Falcon 9 rocket that carried it into space.
2. On Dec. 22, the satellite finished deploying KaRIn, though its cameras cut out just before the process ended.
1. Now, SWOT will get to work scanning the Earth by pinging it with radar signals and listening for echoes. It will complete a full pass of the planet at least once every 21 days.