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Argentina ready to launch satellite to monitor natural disasters and soil moisture

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Staff Writer | September 24, 2018
Argentina satellite
LatAm   This mission will be incredibly valuable to the country’s farmers

Argentina is launching a new microwave imaging satellite to monitor natural disasters and soil moisture, in a long-term bid to bolster the farm sector, an industry that has historically been the backbone of the country’s economy.

Scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 6, Argentina’s SAOCOM 1a satellite “is going to boost the high quality precision agriculture Argentina relies on,” President Mauricio Macri told farmers and industry representatives last week.

Scientists say the soil and subsurface mapping data provided by the $ 600 million dollar project should help increase crop yields. The radar antennae technology will allow Argentina to access a real time ‘water map,” almost unique in the world, which will allow for prediction of harvest yields, floods, and droughts, the government said.

Argentina’s already-struggling economy has suffered a series of setbacks since Macri took power, led by a drought that sapped grain exports earlier this year and a sharp devaluation ofits peso currency that prompted the government to seek a $ 50 billion standby financing deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The government announced earlier this month it would institute fiscal belt-tightening measures, including a tax on the country’s primary exports like corn, wheat, and soy.

“This mission will be incredibly valuable to the country’s farmers. We are hoping that the information will provide a $5 to $7 return on every dollar invested,” said Raul Kulichevsky, Executive and Technical Director for Argentina’s National Space Activities Commission (CONAE).


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