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SpaceX Set for Sunday Sea Satellite Launch

A $180 million satellite to study the world’s oceans in a changing climate will blast off Sunday atop a Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX will try to land on a floating platform after launch.

falcon 9

Credit: SpaceX

The satellite, known as Jason-3, aims to offer a more precise look at how global warming and sea level rise affect wind speeds and currents as close as one kilometer (0.6 miles) from shore, whereas past satellites were limited to about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the coast.

In a tweet on Monday Musk confirmed that the rocket landing attempt will use a droneship, or floating ocean platform. SpaceX’s previous landing attempts on droneships have ended in fiery blasts. The plans to land the rocket on an ocean platform follows last month’s successful launch and landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Watch: Recap of Falcon 9 launch and landing

Jason-3 is co-sponsored by NASA, NOAA, the French space agency CNES, and the European climate satellite collective EUMETSAT. It uses a radar altimeter to measure the height of the sea level within just a few centimeters. The data are used for climate modeling, as well as studying tides, hurricanes and tsunamis.

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