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Starting in 2018, the CFOSAT satellite’s mission will be to study the characteristics of ocean surface winds and waves.
Developed jointly by CNES and the China National Space Administration (CNSA), CFOSAT caries two radar instruments: SWIM (Surface Waves Investigation and Monitoring), a wave scatterometer supplied by CNES; and SCAT (wind SCAT terometer), a wind-field scatterometer supplied by CNSA. SWIM’s 6 rotating beams enables it to measure wave properties (direction, wavelength, etc.), while SCAT measures wind intensity and direction. The data are downlinked to French and Chinese receiving stations.
These data allowes scientists to achieve more accurate ocean forecasts and give earlier warning of severe weather events like storms and cyclones. CFOSAT will also help climatologists to learn more about exchanges between the oceans and atmosphere, which play a key role in climate. Conceived by the LATMOS atmospheres, environments and space observations laboratory in Paris and Guyancourt, the SWIM instrument was developed by Thales Alenia Space with oversight and funding from CNES. Other mission partners include the French institute of marine research and exploration IFREMER, the French national weather service Meteo-France, and SHOM, the French naval hydrographic and oceanographic office.