BackForwardInstrument:  Aquarius 

Instrument details
Acronym Aquarius
Full name Aquarius
Purpose Ocean salinity, soil moisture
Short description Very large real-aperture antenna, L-band (1.4 GHz), co-aligned with a scatterometer (1.26 GHz); both instruments polarimetric
Background New development
Scanning Technique Pushbroom.  Three parallel cross-track beams: 76 km x 94 km, 84 km x 120 km, 96 km x 156 km implementing a swath of 390 km
Resolution 100 km average in the 390 km swath. Corresponding to a 2.5-m antenna
Coverage / Cycle Global coverage in 4 days (soil moisture).  Average over one month for accurate salinity measurements
Mass 247 kg Power 291 W Data Rate 5 kbps


Providing Agency NASA
Instrument Maturity Flown on an R&D satellite
Utilization Period: 2011 to 2015
Last update: 2022-08-08
Detailed characteristics
Satellites this instrument is flying on

Note: a red tag indicates satellites no longer operational, a green tag indicates operational satellites, a blue tag indicates future satellites

Instrument classification
  • Earth observation instrument
  • Passive microwave radiometer
  • Cross-track, special or non-scanning microwave radiometer
WIGOS Subcomponents
  • Subcomponent 1
  • Low-frequency MW imagery
  • Low-frequency MW imager
Mission objectives
Primary mission objectives
  • Sea surface salinity
  • Soil moisture (in the roots region)
  • Soil moisture at surface
Evaluation of Measurements

The following list indicates which measurements can typically be retrieved from this category of instrument. To see a full Gap Analysis by Variable, click on the respective variable.

Note: table can be sorted by clicking on the column headers
Note: * Primary mission objective.
VariableRelevance for measuring this variableOperational limitationsExplanation
Sea surface salinity*2 - very highNo specific limitation.MW polarimetric L-band radiometer (1.4 GHz) associated to a co-aligned L-band scatterometer (1.26 GHz) for roughness correction
Soil moisture (in the roots region)*1 - primaryCoarse spatial resolution.MW channels around 1.4 GHz
Soil moisture at surface*1 - primaryCoarse spatial resolution.MW channels around 1.4 GHz