Mission Summary

The Aquarius mission is providing the first global observations of sea surface salinity, giving climatologists a better understanding of the ocean's role in Earth's water cycle and weather patterns, as well as global climate change.

Together with sensors that measure sea level, ocean color, temperature, winds, rainfall and evaporation, Aquarius, the NASA-built primary instrument aboard the Argentinian space agency's Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas spacecraft, will offer a much clearer picture of how the ocean works, how it is linked to climate and how it may respond to climate change.

Mission Events

August 2011: The Aquarius spacecraft completes its commissioning phase and begins measuring Earth's sea surface salinity.

September 2011: The Aquarius instrument yields a sharp, first global map of the ocean's salinity made with data from a little more than two weeks of observation.

February 2013:A year's worth of observations from Aquarius are used to create a comprehensive map of sea salinity around the world and help scientists identify salinity patterns and various phenomena.

Key Discoveries

February 2013: An animated global view of sea surface salinity made using data collected by Aquarius over a full year reveals a large patch of highly saline water across the North Atlantic as well as a number of other salt-flow patterns and behaviors.

Type: Instrument
Status: Current
Launch Date: June 10, 2011
7:20 a.m. PDT (14:20 UTC)
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Target: Earth
Current Location: Orbit:
Type: Sun-synchronous

Altitude: 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth's surface
Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on the design NASA to Announce Mars 2020 Rover Instruments

› Read more

Two new spaceborne Earth-observing instruments will help scientists better understand how global forests New NASA Studies to Examine Climate/Vegetation Links

› Read more

First Image of the Moon taken by a U.S. Spacecraft Moon Mission 50-Year Anniversary: A Vintage Look Back

› Read more