Aquarius is an L-band radar/radiometer instrument combination that has been designed to measure ocean salinity. It was launched on 10 June 2011 as part of the Aquarius/SAC-D observatory. The observatory is a partnership between the United States National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), which provided Aquarius, and the Argentinian space agency, Comisiόn Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), which provided the spacecraft bus, Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D). The observatory was lost four years later on 7 June 2015 when a failure in the power distribution network resulted in the loss of control of the spacecraft. The Aquarius Mission formally ended on 31 December 2017. The last major milestone was the release of the final version of the salinity retrieval (Version 5). Version 5 meets the mission requirements for accuracy, and reflects the continuing progress and understanding developed by the science team over the lifetime of the mission. Further progress is possible, and several issues remained unresolved at the end of the mission that are relevant to future salinity retrievals. The understanding developed with Aquarius is being transferred to radiometer observations over the ocean from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, and salinity from SMAP with accuracy approaching that of Aquarius are already being produced.
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