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TECH SPACE
NASA's Salt-Seeking Instrument Gets A Silvery Blanket
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 27, 2011


NASA technicians install thermal blankets on the Aquarius instrument at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Technicians from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., completed the installation of thermal blankets on NASA's Aquarius instrument last week, as the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D) spacecraft continued functional performance tests at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (Laboratorio de Integracao e Testes - Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, or LIT-INPE) in Sao Jose dos Campos.

Activities are proceeding on schedule for shipment of the spacecraft to California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in late March for a launch in early June.

Aquarius/SAC-D is an international mission involving NASA and Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales. Aquarius, the primary instrument on the mission, was built jointly by JPL and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

It will provide monthly global maps of how the concentration of dissolved salt (known as salinity) varies on the ocean surface. Salinity is a key tracer for understanding the ocean's role in Earth's water cycle and understanding ocean circulation.

By measuring ocean salinity from space, Aquarius will provide new insights into how the massive natural interplay of freshwater moving among the ocean, atmosphere and sea ice influences Earth's ocean circulation, weather and climate.

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