Aquarius (SAC-D instrument)
Artist's concept of the SAC-D satellite
|Mission duration||3 years|
|Launch date||June 10, 2011
|Launch Site||Vandenberg SLC-2W|
Aquarius is a NASA instrument aboard the Argentine SAC-D spacecraft. Its mission is to measure global sea surface salinity to better predict future climate conditions. The observatory was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 10, 2011.
The science instruments include a set of three radiometers that are sensitive to salinity (1.413 GHz; L-band) and a scatterometer that corrects for the ocean's surface roughness. The SAC-D spacecraft is operated by Argentina's Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE).
For the joint mission, Argentina provided the SAC-D spacecraft and additional science instruments, while NASA provided the Aquarius salinity sensor and the rocket launch. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed the Aquarius Mission development for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise based in Washington, D.C., and NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is managing the mission after launch.
After less than one month in operation, Aquarius produced the first map showing the varying degrees of salinity across the ocean's surface produced by NASA. The first salinity maps from space were provided by the European Space Agency satellite SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) that was launched in November 2009. Previous satellites enabled measurement of ocean currents, sea surface temperature and winds, and ocean color. Aquarius adds the ability to measure another ocean variable – the salt content. Measuring sea surface salinity (SSS) will supplement other satellite observations of the global water cycle: precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture, atmospheric water vapor, and sea ice extent.
- "Aquarius/SAC-D Instruments". CONAE. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (June 1, 2009). "Aquarius Mission Overview". NASA. Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- NASA JPL (June 1, 2009). "Salt-seeking ocean sensor to ship south". NASA. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- "Aquarius Space Craft Return to US". NASA. March 31, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- "Aquarius / SAC-D Satellite Mission". Earth & Space Research (ESR). Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- "Aquarius Yields NASA's First Global Map of Ocean Salinity". NASA. September 22, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- "ESA - Living Planet Programme - SMOS - ESA's water mission SMOS". Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- "Overview: Benefits". Aquarius. NASA. September 23, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
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