Canadian Technology to Play Key Role in the First-Ever Global Survey of Earth's Surface Waters

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2017

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded a $3.8M contract to Communications & Power Industries Canada (CPI) to build components for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. 

SWOT will survey 90 percent of the Earth’s surface water, observe the fine details of the ocean’s surface topography, and measure how lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans are changing over time. The scientific data will contribute to improving ocean circulation models, weather and climate predictions, and the management of water as a strategic resource. SWOT supports the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda by fostering leading-edge technologies as well as global science excellence. The mission will leverage Canada’s world-renowned innovations and scientific expertise in remote sensing technology.

The Canadian contribution to this international mission is a set of extended interaction klystrons (EIKs) built by CPI, the only company in the world with a proven record in building and flying this sophisticated device. The high-power EIKs will be used to generate microwave pulses to collect precise water measurements. In exchange, Canadian scientists will have early access to SWOT data and scientific expertise.

The Canadian SWOT science team, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), will be studying hydrology and oceanography data from this mission to better understand changes in terrestrial waters and oceans across the country.

Quick facts

  • The satellite is currently scheduled for launch in April 2021.
  • SWOT is being jointly developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the French Space Agency (CNES), with a contribution from the CSA.
  • SWOT will support the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda by fostering global science excellence and leading-edge technology in remote-sensing.
  • SWOT will measure ocean features with 10 times the resolution of current technologies.
  • SWOT will support water management and monitoring of climate change effects on lakes and rivers in Canada, especially in the North.


“The technologies designed for today's space program are helping to shape the innovations of tomorrow, including new ways of fighting climate change. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission ensures our country’s space industry remains dynamic and competitive in order to drive broader economic growth. Canada’s world-renowned remote sensing technology fosters global science excellence that will lead to a better future for all Canadians.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

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