In the early hours of Monday morning, as Argentina's CONAE space agency launched the SAOCOM-1A satellite into space, photographer William T. Reid captured this dramatic image of Earth’s newest admirer catching a lift on the back of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
An Earth observation satellite, SAOCOM-1A will provide welcome new data on our planet, stimulating projects to monitor the planet’s forests, map soil moisture and measure surface deformation and motion from space, in the context of natural and anthropogenic disasters.
With teams of experts at its ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, ESA is proud to be supporting CONAE with this important new endeavor.
Moments after launch, ESA’s flight dynamics specialists provided critical information to ground stations so they could track SAOCOM-1A, and soon after made their first 'orbit determination' — a vital step toward being able to communicate with the satellite. The flight dynamics team will continue calculating the satellite’s orbit in the following weeks.
Throughout its life, SAOCOM-1A is also being supported by ESA’s Space Debris Office, who are assessing the risk due to any space junk in the satellite's vicinity and determining if, and how, a ‘Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre’ should be carried out.
In the months to come, Estrack — ESA’s global network of ground-based antennas — will begin to provide tracking support to the satellite, through its ground station in Kourou, French Guiana.
From launch up until its end of mission, ESA will be on hand to support SAOCOM in space as well as working with its teams on ground.
This ESA support has been facilitated thanks to the ESA Earthnet programme, which for more than 40 years has been the cornerstone of Europe’s Earth Observation international cooperation.
For more excellent photography from William T. Reid, visit his website.