Argentina $600 million satellite to boost agriculture sector


Argentina is launching a new microwave imaging satellite to monitor natural disasters and soil moisture, in a long-term bid to bolster the farm sector, an industry that has historically been the backbone of the country’s economy.

Argentina SAOCOM 1a satelliteScheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 6, Argentina’s SAOCOM 1a satellite “is going to boost the high-quality precision agriculture Argentina relies on,” President Mauricio Macri told farmers and industry representatives last week.

Scientists say the soil and subsurface mapping data provided by the $600 million project should help increase crop yields. While Argentina’s previous satellites have relied on optical surveying, scientists say the SAOCOM mission will provide precision X-ray and microwave imaging across Argentina’s grain-producing plains, regardless of weather or time of day.

The radar antennae technology will allow Argentina to access a real time “water map”, almost unique in the world, which will allow for prediction of harvest yields, floods and droughts, the government said.

“This mission will be incredibly valuable to the country’s farmers. We are hoping that the information will provide a $5 to $7 return on every dollar invested,” said Raul Kulichevsky, executive and technical director for Argentina’s National Space Activities Commission (CONAE).

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