NASA conducts an experiment in Saskatchewan

By Rebbeca Marroquin
July 13, 2017 - 5:00pm

NASA is conducting a new satellite mission that will provide mapping of freshwater resources on Earth. 

Dr. Alan Pietroniro, adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan Center for Hydrology, said the purpose of the mission is to help researchers better understand things about the water cycle. The project will also help farmers in the long run with things like seasonal and short term predictions.

“This will help us get a better spatial representation of what is going on and likely help us in our understanding of things like soil and moisture and how it works and behaves, which is of course vital to farmers. It will contribute to the overall understanding of the water cycle in the prairie landscape,” he said.

Pietroniro said there are things about the cycle that are still very unclear, such as where the water goes when it rains and what the lake levels are. The research will also generate maps of all Canadian lakes larger than 100 meters. He said the NASA project is important because the changes in lake levels, especially lakes in the prairies that are internally drained, help determine levels of evaporation and precipitation.

The satellite will launch in 2021, but in order to test it first, they will fly an experimental radar over Saskatchewan.

The radar, known as AirSWOT, will map water levels over Saskatchewan sites like the North Saskatchewan River beginning July 7 as part of the preliminary research phase.


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