In ancient Greek mythology, Argos was a giant with a hundred eyes known as “the all-seeing-one.” Nowadays, Argos' “eyes” still keep watch, but from roughly 530 miles above Earth. NOAA has now added another.
The Argos worldwide Data Collection System (DCS) is a network of instruments onboard polar-orbiting satellites that collect sensor and location data from both stationary and mobile transmitters around the world.
This vital information helps provide a better understanding of Earth’s physical and biological environment, including its weather and climate, as well as biodiversity and ecosystems. Information gathered via the Argos system also assists with maritime security, offshore pollution, and humanitarian efforts while enabling industries to comply with environmental protection regulations. However, Argos has most famously been used to track wildlife, particularly marine mammals and sea turtles since the 1980s, which has allowed researchers to learn more about them.
The Argos system was first developed in 1978 as a tool for collecting and relaying atmospheric and oceanographic data under a Memorandum of Understanding between NOAA, NASA, and the French space agency, Centre National d'études Spatiales (CNES). Today, other international space agencies also participate, including the European Organization of the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and others.
The Newest Argos Instrument
Argos-4, developed in a partnership between NOAA and CNES, the French Space Agency, was scheduled to fly as a hosted payload onboard the General Atomics GAzelle satellite on a Rocket Lab Electron spacecraft. Once operational in orbit, Argos-4 will work together with its sister Argos instruments to help improve and extend data collection around the world.
There are currently several thousand individual users, or programs, using Argos to track more than 13,000 objects, primarily wildlife. The U.S. is the largest Argos user (of 100+ countries that have Argos applications), and NOAA Fisheries is the largest in the country, with more than 30 individual programs for seals, turtles, and many other aquatic species in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Arctic, and Antarctic.
The Gazelle satellite successfully completed its Pre-Ship Review last month before being shipped to Rocket Lab’s Complex 1 launch facility on the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand for launch.
Liftoff took place on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at 1:09 p.m. EDT (Oct. 8, 2022 at 6:09 a.m. NZDT) from Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand.
NOAA is honored to have been a partner with CNES for the provision of the Argos system since the late 1970s, and thrilled Argos-4 will take us to 50 years of cooperation.