Argentine Satellite Will Be Launched by NASA from U.S. Base on 9 June

By Dialogo
June 02, 2011

Argentina’s SAC-D Aquarius satellite, equipped to measure the salinity of the oceans, will be launched by the U.S. space agency NASA from a California base on 9 June, the project’s executive director announced in Buenos Aires.

“On 9 June, Argentina’s SAC-D Aquarius satellite will be launched by NASA, our chief partner in the project, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California,” Conrado Baroto, executive director of the government agency responsible for the project, the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE), said at a press conference.

Around two hundred people worked on the most active stage of the project, which began in 2009 and in which around 320 million dollars has been invested, of which NASA has contributed 260 million and Argentina the remaining 60 million, Baroto affirmed.

Sandra Torrusio, the principal investigator for the initiative, indicated that the satellite, which will be in orbit for five years, at a distance of 657 kilometers from the earth, will have as its chief mission estimating the salinity of seawater using the latest generation of technological instruments.

“This will make an unprecedented contribution to the scientific community for the development of long-range climate models,” Torrusio said.

The development of the SAC-D Aquarius, defined as a space observatory for the ocean, the weather, and the environment, included contributions from the space agencies of Italy, France, Canada, and Brazil, although CONAE’s chief partner in the project is NASA, which will contribute the satellite launch vehicle.

“The satellite is provided with eight instruments, among which NASA is contributing the Aquarius instrument to measure the salinity of seawater, in addition to the launch vehicle,” Argentine project leader Daniel Caruso said for his part, speaking by videoconference from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The orbital station will be capable of measuring atmospheric temperature, pressure, and humidity profiles, as well as having an infrared camera equipped with new technology to monitor fires and volcanoes, among other functions, the Argentine agency explained.