JPL scientists are celebrating the successful Friday morning launch of a satellite that will measure ocean salinity levels in an effort to track changing ocean currents and, by extension, increase understanding of global climate change.
The Earth-orbiting Aquarius SAC-D satellite, a joint effort of JPL and Argentina’s space agency, was launched into space at 7:20 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Delta-2 rocket.
“Everything went flawlessly,” said JPL Aquarius Project Manager Amit Sen. “About an hour after launch, we detected separation from the rocket and unfurled our solar panels, which give us the energy we need to operate while in orbit.”
The Aquarius sea salinity measurement instrument was built by Sen’s team at JPL in La Cañada Flintridge and is housed in the Argentine-built SAC (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) satellite chassis. Aquarius will begin scanning Earth’s oceans in about 25 days, providing consistent weekly measurements from various points around the world over the next three years, said Sen.