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The SAOCOM (SAtélite Argentino de Observación COn Microondas) satellite series represents Argentina's approved polarimetric L-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) constellation of two spacecraft, a program defined, managed and operated by CONAE (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales), Argentina's Space Agency, Buenos Aires. The SAOCOM-1 mission is composed of two satellites (SAOCOM-1A and -1B) launched consecutively. The overall objective of SAOCOM is to provide an effective Earth observation and disaster monitoring capability.

The SAOCOM requirements call for a capability to provide timely information in support of natural and anthropogenic disaster management (such as regional flooding, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, forest fires, etc.), and to conduct monitoring services for agriculture, mining and ocean applications - including monitoring surveys of Antarctica (study of continental glacier evolution, global change indicators, etc.). The goal is to obtain data with high-quality radiometric and geometric accuracy (e.g. natural resources identification, interferometry, glaciology), and to provide also high revisit frequencies (daily) in support of specific operational requirements.

SAOCOM Mission Parameters
Launch Date1A: 7 October 2018
1B: 30 August 2020
Orbit Height620 km
Orbit TypeSun-synchronous nearly circular frozen polar
Nominal Local Time at Ascending Node6:12 AM
Orbit Inclination97.89°
Orbit Period97.2 min
Repeat Cycle16 days (1 satellite) / 8 days (constellation)


In agreement with ASI (Italian Space Agency), ESA advertises the availability of SAOCOM data acquired over the ASI Zone of Exclusivity (Europe and Mediterranean basin) via the ASI SAOCOM data hub.

SAOCOM Objectives

The main SAOCOM mission objective is to satisfy the needs of Argentinean society, economic and productive sectors, and the National Space Program. These goals support:

  • Agriculture
  • Hydrology-including floods and emergencies
  • To generate operative soil moisture maps
  • To exploit SAR interferometric capability

Moreover, the SIASGE System, obtained by the integration of Argentine-Italian SAOCOM Constellation and the Italian COSMO-SkyMed Constellation, implements a double band (X+L) SAR joint mission between ASI and CONAE.

SAOCOM Instrument

SAR characteristics
TypeSynthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Center Frequency1275 MHz (L-band)
Maximum Bandwidth50 MHz
Transmit Peak Power6.7 kW
Operational ModesStripMap
Swath Width13 - 67 km (beam dependent) for StripMap
109 - 389 km (beam dependent) for TopSAR
Polarization ModesSingle, dual or quad polarization (technological Compact Polarization modes also available)
NESZ (Noise Equivalent Sigma Zero)< -34 dB for StripMap and TopSAR quad polarization modes
< -28dB for StripMap and TopSAR dual and single polarization modes
Antenna Looking Angleleft or right side of path (right side is default)
Incidence Angles18-50°
Data Quantization4 bit Block Adaptive Quantization
Duty Cycle15% (about 15 minutes per orbit, depending on selected datatakes modes datarate and available ground stations)


The parameters for each acquisition mode are summarised below.

Acquisition ModePolarization ModeSwath WidthSpatial ResolutionIncidence Angle Range (min)
StripmapSingle (SP), dual (DP) or quad (QD)SP & DP: 30 km - 67 km
QP: 13 km - 30 km
QP: 10 m el x 6 m az (L1A SLC)
DP & SP: 10m el x 5 m az (L1A SLC)
SP & DP:  21° - 50°  QP: 18° - 35° 
TopSAR narrowSingle (SP), dual (DP) or quad (QD)TNA QP >109 km
TNB QP >108 km
TNA DP & SP >174 km
TNB DP & SP >150 km
QP: 10 m el x 50 m az (L1A SLC)
DP & SP: 10 m el x 30 m az (L1A SLC)
TNA QP:  18°- 27°
TNB QP:  27°- 35°
TNA DP & SP:  25°- 38
TNB DP & SP:  38°- 47°
TopSAR wideSingle (SP), dual (DP), quad (QP), or compact (CP)TW QP >217 km
TW DP & SP & CP  >352 km
QP: 10m el x 100m az (L1A SLC)
DP & SP: 10m el x 50 m az (L1A SLC)
TW QP:  18°- 35°
TW DP & SP:  25°- 48°