Mission Status & Events

Global map of ocean salinity
Update From Aquarius PI Gary Lagerloef: First Light Image Released
[23-Sep-11] I am pleased to say that an Aquarius "first light" image was the subject of a NASA Press Release on Thursday, and is generating quite a bit of excitement. You can see the image and learn more about it at the following links: The map reveals predominantly well-known ocean salinity features, such as higher salinity in the subtropics, higher average salinity in the Atlantic Ocean compared to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and lower salinity in rainy belts near the equator, in the northernmost Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. The data also show important smaller details, such as the extent of low-salinity water associated with outflow from the Amazon River. Other interesting patterns include wave-like features along the boundaries between high- and low-salinity regions in the tropics.

There are a few other things to know about the image: It is a composite of the first two and a half weeks of data since Aquarius became operational on August 25. These data contain uncertainties, and calibration and data validation work remains. Measurements in the southernmost ocean regions are not yet reliable as they are associated with high winds and low surface temperatures. The north-south striped patterns visible throughout the image are artifacts of small residual calibration errors and thus are not real. Low salinity values immediately adjacent to land and ice-covered areas are due to proximity to coastlines or ice edges, which introduces errors into the data. Although preliminary near-shore corrections have been applied, these will require additional analyses to correct.

It's a very good start. Enjoy the view!