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“ Back in 1988 President Bill Clinton named Argentina the only "major non-NATO ally" in Latin America. (24) CONAE had already participated with NASA in the development of the Satellite de Aplicaciones Cienfifico (SAC) micro satellites as a space-research project. (25) As Argentina continues to seek closer military ties with the United States, mainly through peacekeeping operations, its space program now appears more cooperative with that of the United States.
The joint minimum three-year mission will carry a suite of instruments into space onboard the Argentine-built SAC-D spacecraft. NASA's sensor, Aquarius, is the primary instrument on the mission. Aquarius is designed to provide monthly global maps of how salt concentration varies on the ocean surface – a key indicator of ocean circulation and its role in climate change. Seven CONAE-sponsored instruments will provide environmental data for a wide range of applications, including natural hazards, land processes, epidemiological studies and air quality issues.
NASA and CONAE conducted a joint solicitation and selection of scientific investigations and innovative application demonstration projects using Aquarius/SAC-D observations. NASA selected 15 projects that it will fund over the next four years for a total of $8 million. CONAE/MinCyT selected 15 Argentine projects with participation of scientists from Chile and Brazil, which will be funded for a total of $1.3 million. An additional 10 proposals were selected from scientists in Italy and Japan.