Today, NASA launched its 14th earth science satellite into space with the launch of the Aquarius/SAC-D Sea Surface Salinity satellite. The satellite will provide a monthly map of sea salt movement and data that will help understand global climate change and ocean currents. The $287 million satellite measures the microwave energy emitted from the ocean during weekly scans.
To date, salinity has been sparsely measured and monitored from ships an buoys, mostly from shipping channels, and without a full global view. These first global observation promise to dramatically improve our understanding of ocean currents, the global water cycle of evaporation and precipitation, and the variability and change of seawater density and buoyancy over the satellites three-year mission. These reading will greatly improve climate model by linking the water cycle with ocean circulation.
The project is a joint effort between NASA and Argentina’s National Space Activities Commission, and will also serve environmental projects in Brazil, France, Italy and Canada.