NASA's Aquarius Gets a Presidential Visit

NASA's Aquarius
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (center in blue) was briefed Jan. 20 during a tour of the facility where the JPL-built Aquarius instrument is being integrated with the Argentinian satellite, called the Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC-D).

The visit took place during the kickoff of the satellite's system contractor new satellite integration facility in Bariloche, Argentina. The president met with Aquarius/SAC-D team members from NASA, Argentina's space agency, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and the contractor.

The primary instrument on the mission, Aquarius is designed to provide monthly global maps of how salt concentration varies on the ocean surface -- a key indicator of ocean circulation and its role in climate change. Seven Argentine space agency-sponsored instruments will provide environmental data for a wide range of applications, including natural hazards, land processes, epidemiological studies and air quality issues.

The minimum three-year mission is scheduled to launch this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

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