Saocom 1B, Argentina’s new satellite to boost agribusiness is already in space

Saocom 1B, Argentina's new satellite to boost agribusiness is already in space
Image: © AFP 2020 / Bruce Weaver

The Saocom 1B was launched via a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX, owned by the iconic businessman Elon Musk, and is identical to the device launched in 2018. It will be used to map underground soil moisture and control floods in Argentina, a resource to strengthen the country’s agribusiness.

After being postponed twice its launch due to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and for climatic reasons, the new latest generation satellite and Argentine made Saocom 1B was launched into space on Sunday, August 30.

A Falcon 9 rocket from the space manufacturing and transportation company SpaceX, departed from the JF Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.

The new device is identical to the Saocom 1A, launched in 2018, and completes the deployment of six space devices of the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management (SIASGE or Sistema Italo Argentino de Satélites para la Gestión de Emergencias), which will share information with the other four, from the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

The Saocom 1B has the ability to generate below-surface soil moisture maps, which will allow identifying small variations, in addition to terrain displacements, and thus support the agricultural and livestock industry, hydrology and earthquake, volcano or landslides emergencies.

“Deployed in space, it measures 10 meters long by 4.5 meters high and will orbit at a height of 620 km. The satellite instrument is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) antenna, which serves to provide information on irrigation, plant health, distinguishing what types of crops were made,” Hernan Aranda, a mechanical engineer at the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and a project member in the area of ground support mechanisms, told Revyuh.

The satellite work was completed in late 2019 and sent to the US in March 2020, but the pandemic outbreak prevented the relocation of Argentine technicians, who were finally able to reach the north in early July. Due to weather issues and NASA’s missions schedule, the launch was postponed until Sunday 30.

The construction of the new Argentine industry satellite was carried out in the city of Bariloche, Rio Negro province, in Patagonia. It is a project of the National Space Activities Commission (CONEA – Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales) in conjunction with Invap, a state-owned high-tech company in that district, also responsible for the development of the Arsat communications satellites.

The SAR antenna uses microwaves in the L-band, and has the ability to penetrate below the earth’s surface. The implementation of the  Saocom 1A into orbit has allowed Conae to pass flood guides to the National Water Institute (INA).

In addition, this technology allows to carry out digital elevation models, which has multiple applications such as planting and livestock, the layout of routes or railways, for the modelling of hydrological resources, drainage and drainage maps in cities, and identify points of natural accumulation of water.

“Japan is the only country that has a satellite with instruments similar to the one we made, what was developed here in Argentina is unique in the world. When there is enough momentum, a lot of things can be achieved. The best thing is to work on something that makes the country grow and works well, “commented Aranda, who has been part of the project for 10 years, with pride.

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com