by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 10, 2011
The US space agency on Friday launched a satellite to observe levels of salt on the surface of the world's oceans and measure how changes in salinity may be linked to future climate.
The $400 million Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft, a partnership with Argentina, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:20 am Pacific time (1420 GMT).
The orbiting science instrument will aim to map the entire open ocean every seven days from its position 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth, producing monthly estimates that show how salt levels change over time and location.
"Data from this mission will advance our understanding of the ocean," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington.
NASA said the mission will survey salinity at the ocean's surface in "the most detailed summary of conditions ever undertaken."
Previously, such measurements were taken largely by ships moving along their trade routes.
The mission, whose name refers to US-Argentine Aquarius Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D observatory, is set to last for three years.
A European satellite was launched in 2009 to measure soil moisture and ocean salinity.
The European Space Agency's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission's main focus is soil moisture, while Aquarius is aimed primarily at measuring ocean salinity, which plays a key role in exchanges of water and heat in the atmosphere.
The Aquarius/SAC-D is a global collaboration with partner Argentina as well as France, Brazil, Canada and Italy, NASA said.
"This mission is the most outstanding project in the history of scientific and technological cooperation between Argentina and the United States," said the Argentine space agency's director Conrado Varotto.
"Information from the mission will have significant benefits for humankind."
Earlier this year, NASA lost Glory, a $424 million Earth-observing satellite that failed to separate properly from its rocket launcher and plunged into the ocean.
But Aquarius/SAC-D steered clear of that problem, and the payload fairing protecting the spacecraft separated and fell away as planned, allowing the craft to enter orbit.
The satellite observatory is carrying seven additional instruments to collect a range of environmental data for studies of natural hazards, air quality, land processes and epidemiology, NASA said.
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
New NASA Map Reveals Tropical Forest Carbon Storage
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 01, 2011
A NASA-led research team has used a variety of NASA satellite data to create the most precise map ever produced depicting the amount and location of carbon stored in Earth's tropical forests. The data are expected to provide a baseline for ongoing carbon monitoring and research and serve as a useful resource for managing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The new map, created from ground- ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|