SAOCOM (Microwave Earth Observation Satellites) mission is composed of 2 high-capacity satellites, the largest ever built in the Southern Hemisphere, weighing 1600 kg each. Their main purpose will be monitoring for the prevention of disasters by means of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
The radar emits high power microwave pulses using a large antenna of 2.5 x 10m, and will be able to inspection situations before or as they occur, no matter the hour or weather conditions.
Unlike normal cameras, SAR is able to see through clouds or in the dark of the night. Furthermore, its synthetic aperture may steer a beam of a fixed antenna as if it were directional. This capacity allows the camera to focus on a particular point or to scan a large area of the surface, without the risks and mechanical complications involved in moving a remote antenna or the waste of energy necessary to move the whole satellite to change its position. As is emits L-band microwaves, the SAR will be able to detect objects larger than 8 m.
Besides, SAOCOM satellites will carry and infra red camera capable of detecting heat sources and to prevent fire in deserted areas. They will form part of the joint Italo-Argentine SIASGE constellation (an emergency management system) together with Italian satellites that will carry radars using the complementary X frequency. The US Space Agency, NASA will collaborate in this project providing critical platform components.