The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft is on the verge of hitting the orbit to monitor the levels of the oceans, recently affected by climate change, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This comes as a team of NASA and university scientists developed a new way to use satellite measurements to track changes in Atlantic Ocean currents, which are a driving force in global climate. The finding opens a path to better monitoring and understanding of how ocean circulation is changing and what the changes may mean for future climate, NASA says.
The spacecraft, which will be transferred aboard a Space X Falcon 9-type artifact, is the result of joint work by the European Space Agency and NASA.
It has two instruments that work in combination to determine sea level, and a third one to collect atmospheric data.
The Poseidon-4 radar altimeter measures the height of the ocean by bouncing radar pulses off the water surface and calculating the time it takes for the signal to return to the satellite.
However, water vapor in the atmosphere affects the spread of the altimeter radar pulses, which can make the ocean appear to be higher or lower than it actually is.
According to NASA, both spacecrafts, which will confirm the sea level rise due to climate change, will also collect some data on atmospheric temperature and humidity in order to enhance weather forecasts.
“This [new] satellite approach allows us to improve projections of future changes and — quite literally — get to the bottom of what drives ocean current changes,” said Felix Landerer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who led the research team.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: News Agencies/Euro Space Agency