SABIA-Mar: a satellite to study the Argentine Sea

At the end of 2024, Argentina plans to launch a new satellite called SABIA-Mar, intended to study the sea and coasts of Argentina and South America. Developed by the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE) together with other institutions and companies in the national scientific and technological system, it will provide valuable information for the scientific and productive field. SABIA-Mar will focus on the study of the seas globally, although it will specialize in the coastal regions of Argentina and South America up to 650 kilometers from the coast. Its main objective will be to provide information for the study of the primary productivity of the sea, marine ecosystems, the carbon cycle, the management of fisheries resources, the dynamics and quality of water on coasts and estuaries.

“It is the next Earth observation satellite from CONAE”, indicates Raul Kulichevsky, executive and technical director of the space agency. In addition, he highlights that the mission will be part of Pampa Azul, an initiative of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to promote scientific knowledge, technological development and productive innovation in the South Atlantic. In that sense, “St.ABIA-Mar will generate very important data for different organizations and institutions linked to this initiative. In addition, it will value the scientific work associated with the Argentine Sea’ he points.

SABIA-Mar will be the sixth mission, within the scope of the National Space Plan, after the successful completion of the series of four SAC scientific applications satellites (SAC-A, SAC-B, SAC-C and SAC-D/Aquarius) and the SAOCOM 1 mission, completed in 2020, consisting of two satellites equipped with radar technology that continue to operate.

warming up engines

Currently, CONAE is advancing in the integration and testing of the satellite’s functional engineering model, as well as in the development of mission products and adaptation equipment for existing ground stations, responsible for communication to and from the satellite.

What is more, From April 24 to 28, at the Teófilo Tabanera Space Center, in the province of Córdoba, the Critical Mission Project Review (MCDR) will take place, which consists of a multidisciplinary technical analysis to consolidate the project and verify that the established requirements can be met. fulfilled to ensure your success. The meeting will be attended by 80 representatives from CONAE, suppliers and specialized evaluators from international institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Center for Space Studies of France (CNES), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) and the National Space Research Agency (INPE).

“The MCDR review is one of the most important milestones in any satellite mission, where the project is analyzed to start manufacturing, although in this case we have already advanced with some steps”, he says. Martin Alvarez, project manager for the SABIA-Mar Mission. “For this instance, we call on external reviewers, who evaluate the work we’ve done so far and, at the same time, offer suggestions, corrections or alerts for the future of the project”, he adds.

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According to Kulichesvky, “the approval of this milestone means advancing to the next stage of the project, having the necessary guarantees to start manufacturing the flight components, once all the projects have been duly reviewed and approved by tests and theoretical analyses, and with the endorsement of international experts in the field”.

sea ​​color

Álvarez points out that, unlike other satellites belonging to other international space agencies, SABIA-Mar will focus on Argentina and South America. “Its instruments will make it possible to monitor the Argentine and South American coasts with a very good spatial resolution of 200 meters, generating unique information that does not exist today in the Argentine Sea.“, highlights.

The satellite will carry two main instruments on board: the VIS-NIR and NIR-SWIR cameras, sensitive to visible and infrared light bands, developed by INVAP together with CONAE with the aim of measuring the color of the sea (or radiance emerging from the the surface of the sea). “With these cameras, we are going to evaluate the trophic chain of the Argentine Sea and measure aspects related to its productivity, in relation to aquaculture and fishing, among others”, says Álvarez.

Its main applications are to monitor productivity by studying the color of the sea, which is related to the composition of water under parameters that include, for example, the concentration of Chlorophyll-a, the most abundant pigment in algae in the ocean. This variable is related to the phytoplankton content, the first link in the sea food chain, so it is a direct indicator of the presence and distribution of fish”, he details. Caroline Taurus, principal investigator of the SABIA-Mar Mission. These aspects contribute to estimating models of primary productivity in the ocean and provide data that are used in research related to climate change.

technological sovereignty

The new Argentine mission is developed by the national space agency together with public institutions and companies in the scientific and technological system. Among these institutions, technology companies stand out. INVAP and VENG, National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA), Argentine Institute of Radio Astronomy (IAR), National University of La Plata (UNLP), IMER and Ascentio.

For Daniel Filmus, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, the SABIA-Mar mission is a huge technological challenge. “That’s why we need to work together with multiple actors in the Argentine scientific and technological system, private companies, universities and public institutions to have more and more technological spatial sovereignty in our country”, he says.

“This satellite will generate knowledge about the marine ecosystem, which is very rich and covers a vast area, and which is still very little studied. Better knowledge of this environment will help us to make more sustainable use of resources and exercise sovereignty over the riches of our territory”, highlights Tauro.

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