Friday, June 10, 2011

Argentine Sat Wants to Know How Salty the Briny Blue Is

Well all kidding aside, Tim Sayell sent in this interesting article from Yahoo News. An Argentine-built satellite was boosted into low Earth orbit atop a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force base shortly before 7:30 PT 6/10/11.

The Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is a An ocean-mapping satellite who's mission is to chart the saltiness of the sea from space. The information gained from the satellite, according to the article:
  • NASA will produce monthly maps detailing changes in salt levels over three years. Scientists hope the data will help them better predict future climate change and short-term climate phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina.
  • Besides Aquarius, seven other instruments will collect environmental data including a camera that will make images of volcanic eruptions, wildfires and nighttime light.
Besides Argentina and NASA, other countries participating in the 400 million dollar mission include Brazil, Canada, France and Italy.

This launch marks a first of five that United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of rocket builders Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., will carry out for NASA this year. The other projects will be - according to the article:
  • Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, the Grail probe to the moon, the NPP environmental satellite and the Mars Science Laboratory to the Martian surface.

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