Mission Specification & Status

The Aquarius/SAC-D mission, launched on June 10, 2011,  is a joint venture between NASA and the Argentinean Space Agency (CONAE). The mission features the sea surface salinity sensor Aquarius and is the first mission with the primary goal of measuring sea surface salinity (SSS) from space. Data from Aquarius will play a large role in understanding both climate change and the global water cycle.

On June 7, 2015 at 12:53:17 UTC the Aquarius/SAC-D observatory suffered a mission-ending hardware failure resulting in the permanent cessation of data flows.  The entire Aquarius data record spans a full 3 year, 9 month period from 8/25/2011 – 6/7/2015.  Version 4.0 of the Aquarius data is the Official NASA end-of-prime mission data for the Aquarius/SAC-D mission.  While no further forward processing of data is possible, a release of a V5.0 end-of-mission dataset is expected in future.
The Aquarius/SAC-D satellite
This instrument carries 3 radiometers, and 1 scatterometer.  They are operating at 1.4 GHz & 1.2 GHz respectively.  The data collected by the radiometer are being used together with sea surface temperature collected from another platform(s), to derive salinity data.  This is corrected for surface roughness using data from the Aquarius scatterometer.

The satellite will cross the equator at 6am and pm.  The Aquarius instrument will continuously point away from the sun to avoid glint.
PO.DAAC will be providing Level 2 SSS data as well as gridded Level 3 degree SSS products generated by the Aquarius Ground Segment at Goddard.  Level 3 products will be produced with temporal resolutions of daily, 8 day, monthly, 3 months, and annual.  Monthly and seasonal climatology products from Aqaurius are also available. The Aquarius instrument will provide global coverage every 7 days. The spatial resolution at Level 2 will be approximately 100km.  L3 products are gridded at 1 degree spatial resolution.

News and Announcements


The PO.DAAC is pleased to announce the availability of the version 5.0 Aquarius/SAC-D data.  This is the official NASA/Aquarius Project end-of-mission dataset spanning the complete 3-year, 9-month period of Aquarius science data availability, from August 25, 2011 through June 7, 2015. Likely future reprocessing releases of the Aquarius data will occur when further measurable algorithm improvements are achieved.

Data sets comprising this v5.0 release include the Level 2 orbital data and Level 3 mapped salinity, wind speed, and derived density and spiciness products at 1 degree spatial resolution for ascending, descending and combined passes and for the following time intervals: daily, 7 day, monthly, seasonal, annual.  Seasonal and monthly climatology, cumulative (mission mean), and 7-day and 28-day running mean products are also included. Additionally, a complementary set of similarly gridded L3 ancillary SST products are provided. A summary of improvements with this new version of the Aquarius data is available here. All users are advised to work with V5.0 over any previous versions.  

The Aquarius V5.0 data sets are described and discoverable via the PO.DAAC data portal.   Access to these data is via PO.DAAC’s public FTP site: .  The data are also accessible via a range of PO.DAAC tools and services: OPeNDAP, THREDDS, Aquarius Level 3 Browser, LAS, the HiTIDE L2 subsetter and associated Web Services.

The Aquarius Data Users Guide, Aquarius Data Validation Document, and other primary technical documentation, are available from the FTP site together with reader software.   General information regarding Aquarius/SAC-D mission is available from the mission website and also via PO.DAAC’s Aquarius  and salinity webpages.

Should you have any questions, please contact us at:

See all "Official Aquarius/SAC-D" Announcements

See all PO.DAAC Announcements

Aquarius Documentation Roadmap (click the links to access the documents)



NASA's Aquarius Sea Surface Salinity

This video provides a global tour of sea surface salinity using measurements taken by NASA's Aquarius instrument aboard the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft over the period September 2011 through September 2014. Red represents areas of high salinity, while blue represents areas of low salinity. Aquarius is a focused effort to measure sea surface salinity and providing the global view of salinity variability needed for climate studies. The mission has been a collaboration between NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales).

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: