Remember when Carlos Menem promised to create a rocket that would allow us to travel to Japan in 1:30 hours? Well, this is nothing like it, except for the fact that it’s related with outer space, and I wanted to type that sentence about Menem because it makes me crack up every time.
In August, SpaceX (an American company dedicated to space travel) will be launching a gigantic Saocom 1A satellite developed by the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE). The Argentine aerospace promise is aimed at collecting new scientific data that could transform the local agronomy industry.
The new satellite is part of the Saocom mission, which along with four other Italian satellites, will orbit Earth using complex tools to analyze humidity at ground levels.
All data obtained by the Saocom mission will be used to create new risk maps of plant diseases, which will in time allow producers to better determine how much and where to use fertilizers. In the long term, this information will led to more profitable crops.
The Saocom 1A’s 10-meter-long antenna will obtain data so precise that it will be able to detect humidity levels of places as long as 100 meters. Everyday, it will receive up to 223 gigabytes of high resolution images.
Laura Frulla, lead investigator at the mission, said the Saocom’s satellites are going to have a significant economic impact on the Argentine agriculture because they will save money on the application of fertilizers and pesticides, and they will also serve to estimate the yields of crops based on soil moisture and the prediction of pests.
“It will also be possible to detect water and snow accumulation, which will facilitate the creation of water access systems and also prevent the establishment of homes in flood zones with water recurrence,” Ms. Frulla told La Voz journalist Lucas Viano.
Last year, more than 5 million hectares flooded in the Buenos Aires and La Pampa provinces, affecting 25 percent of the national agriculture production, and generating more than U.S $1.5 million in loses. With the new data provided by the Saocom 1A satellite, scientists will be able to work on more effective and complex recovery plans when future floods take place.
The Argentine satellite will be launched in August at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara, California, on a Falcon 9 reusable rocket that will come back to earth after concluding its part of the operation. As with every other SpaceX event, we’ll be able to stream the Falcon 9 launch carrying the Saocom 1A. So, depending on how you like to celebrate, you can grab a pop corn bowl or a glass of wine because this will definitely be a milestone for the Argentine scientific community.
The CONAE is also working on a new Saocom 1A twin satellite called Saocom 1B, which is expected to be launched on 2019.