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Argentine Radar Satellite Is Launched, To Coordinate with Italian Constellation

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EIRNS— Argentina’s first radar satellite, built by its domestic high-technology company, INVAP, was launched yesterday by SpaceX from California. Saocom-1A is a 6,000-pound synthetic aperture radar Earth-orbiting satellite, designed to study soil moisture for agriculture, conduct disaster monitoring, and carry out scientific research.

Radar satellites are significantly more complex than the more common remote sensing satellites, which passively collect data that can be used to create images in the optical part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radar is an active system, where pulses of radio waves are sent out from the spacecraft, and the time it takes for the return reflectance provides data on the area being observed. The great advantage to radar is, that, unlike optical systems, it can "see" at night, and through clouds. There are regions of the Earth that are almost constantly covered with clouds.

The Argentine radar satellite data will be used by the nation’s space agency, CONAE, which will operate it as part of a joint system of satellites with Italy, coordinating observations with four Italian radar satellites. Argentina had assistance from NASA and space agencies in Europe and Canada, which have experience with radar satellite technology.

See also
Canadian Space Agency: Satellites in your everday lives

Argentina is planning a second radar satellite, Saocom-1B, for development in the near future.