Two cameras aboard the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite captured the large mast and antenna panels of the spacecraft’s main science instrument deploying over four days, a process that was completed on Dec. 22, 2022. The masts, which unfold from opposite sides of the spacecraft, can be seen extending out from the spacecraft and locking in place, but the cameras stopped short of capturing the antennas at the ends of the masts being fully deployed (a milestone the team confirmed with telemetry data). This video places the two camera views side by side.

Located 33 feet (10 meters) apart, the two antennas belong to the groundbreaking Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, which will measure the height of water on over 90% of Earth’s surface and provide a high-definition survey of our planet’s water for the first time.

Launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California on Dec. 16, 2022, SWOT is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and UK Space Agency.

The mission used two customized commercial cameras aboard the satellite (the same type used to capture NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars) to capture the antenna deployment process.

To learn more about the mission, visit:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES