The ESR Aquarius Team
Aquarius/SAC-D Satellite artist conception from orbit over southern Patagonia.
The background image is based on SeaWiFS data.
|Principal Investigator (PI)|
|Validation System Manager|
|PI Aquarius Administrator|
The Aquarius mission is one of two new Earth System Science Pathfinder small-satellite program missions confirmed by NASA in 2005. Each mission performs a first-of-a-kind exploratory measurement that will help answer fundamental questions about how our planet works and how it may change in the future.
The innovative Aquarius satellite launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on June 10, 2011 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. It is the first satellite mission specifically
designed to provide monthly global measurements of how sea water salinity varies
at the ocean surface, which is a key to studying the links between ocean circulation
and global water cycles. Variations in ocean surface salinity are a key area
of scientific uncertainty. Salinity variations modify the interaction between
ocean circulation and the global water cycle, which in turn affects the ocean’s
capacity to store and transport heat and regulate Earth's climate. The Aquarius
Mission seeks to determine how the ocean responds to the combined effects of
evaporation, precipitation, ice melt and river runoff on seasonal and inter-annual
time scales, and their impact on the global distribution and availability of
fresh water. Sea surface salinity, along with sea surface temperature, determines
the sea surface density. This controls the formation of water masses in the
ocean and regulates the 3-dimensional ocean circulation. Recent technological
advances have provided the ability to examine these processes using remote sensing
tools via satellite, and will further understanding of how climate variations
induce changes in the global ocean circulation and how our oceans respond to
climate change and the water cycle.
More information about the Aquarius Mission can be found on the Aquarius SAC/D Mission Home Page. To track Aquarius “real-time” , view Where Is Aquarius?. Download the Aquarius Education & Public Outreach Resources document for links to the iPhone App, Mission Overview and many other audio and visual educational resources for this important mission.
The Aquarius / SAC-D Mission is successfully streaming real-time salinity data and providing scientists with NASA’s first global map of salinity. The first image and accompanying data and mission history are available on JPL's Photojournal, the NASA Aquarius page and the official NASA press release; Aquarius Yields NASA's First Global Map of Ocean. Aquarius is the lead story on This Week@NASA. For more information, please see Aquarius Image Gallery and Animation.
The Aquarius mission was developed in an international partnership with Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), which has successfully developed three consecutive science application satellites in cooperation with NASA. Numerous university, corporate, government and international institutions are also involved in the Aquarius mission. For the joint mission, Argentina provided the SAC-D spacecraft and additional science instruments and conducts the mission operations. NASA developed and built the Aquarius salinity sensor and provided the rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on June 10, 2011 at 7:20M PDT. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed the Aquarius Mission development for NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program, and NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, now manages the mission after launch.
|Aquarius Instruments (NASA)
Instrument Mode: Active/Passive L-band, Push-broom measurement approach using 3-beam, offset antenna.
Orbit: 657 km, sun synchronous @ 6 pm, ascending node
Observatory: CONAE contributes SAC-D (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) Service Platform and Ground Station.
Attitude & Orbit Control: Three axis stabilized, nadir pointing; maneuvering thrusters.
Observatory Dimensions (launch config): 2,7m (diameter) and 4,5 m
Communications: S Band Up and Downlink, X Band Data Downlink
Operational Life: 3 years (Aquarius); 5 years (S/P and SAC-D Instruments)
Launch Date: June 10, 2011
Launch Vehicle: Boeing Delta II 7320-10 Launch Vehicle
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California, USA
Science Products: 7-day, Monthly and Yearly Global Maps
Data Availability: Through PO.DAAC (NASA / JPL)
|The Aquarius/SAC-D mission concept. The satellite is in a polar sun-synchronous orbit crossing the equator at 6pm (ascending) and 6am (descending) local time. The Aquarius sensor views continually away from the sun to avoid signal contamination from solar L-band energy flux. The three beams vary in width and incidence angle to form a 390 km wide ground swath. The orbit has an exact repeat ground track every seven days, with 390 km track spacing at the equator, ensuring complete global coverage of the swath. Salinity data calibration and validation will be based on available in situ surface measurements by ships, buoys and Argo floats.|
The Aquarius Validation Data System (AVDS) obtains and process surface measurements from the data centers of several ocean observation programs (Argo GOSUD, TAO, ...) as a means of delivering surface calibration data to the Aquarius data processing center. Liaisons are maintained with various observation programs in order to acquire near surface data on a daily basis. The data are quality controlled and edited if necessary and provided in a uniform data format.
The Aquarius / SAC-D Satellite Mission has a dedicated educational and public outreach (EPO) effort which is led by Annette deCharon, Senior Science Educator and Aquarius EPO Manager. Please visit the Aquarius outreach website, http://aquarius.gsfc.nasa.gov/education.html, to learn more.