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Education: 21st Century Technology

The principal scientific objective of Aquarius is to make global SSS measurements over the open oceans with 150-km spatial resolution, and to achieve a measurement error less than 0.2 (PSS-78 [practical salinity scale of 1978]) on a 30-day time scale, taking into account all sensor and geophysical random errors and biases (Lagerloef et al, 2008). Salinity remote sensing is accomplished by measuring microwave emission from the sea surface in terms of a parameter called brightness temperature (in Kelvins), correcting for other natural emission sources and sinks. Ocean brightness temperatures are related to the dielectric properties of seawater, and at lower microwave frequencies, these are modulated by salinity.

We know climate change can affect us, but does climate change alter something as vast, deep and mysterious as our oceans? For years, scientists have studied the world's oceans by sending out ships and divers, deploying data-gathering buoys, and by taking aerial measurements from planes. But one of the better ways to understand oceans is to gain an even broader perspective - the view from space. NASA's Earth observing satellites do more than just take pictures of our planet. High-tech sensors gather data, including ocean surface temperature, surface winds, sea level, circulation, and even marine life. With the launch of Aquarius, NASA will collect its first-ever sea surface salinity data. Information the satellites obtain help us understand the complex interactions driving the world's oceans today - and gain valuable insight into how the impacts of climate change on oceans might affect us on dry land. (source)

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