Watching the World for 30 Years

Reference buoys at sea.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Data collected by the Argos Data Collection and location System has been a virtual treasure trove to scientists and researchers who are closely monitoring changes in the Earth’s environment and the movement of some of its special creatures.

This satellite-based system collects, processes, and disseminates environmental data from fixed and mobile transmitters worldwide. Researchers are then provided this valuable information about our planet’s environment and animal life - from measuring the salinity levels and currents of the world’s oceans to tracking endangered hawksbill turtles.  

Argos DCS is a reflection of the successful collaboration between NOAA and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales of France (the French space agency) that began in 1979.

A Treasure Trove of Information

Deploying buoy.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The Argos DCS consists of sensors and transmitters that fly onboard NOAA’s Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites. The instruments capture the data, including ocean temperatures, river levels, and wildfire conditions, which are collected at NOAA ground stations in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wallops Island, Va., and at the CNES facility in Lannion, France. From there, the data is processed and distributed in real time by NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service to the scientific community.

More than 18,000 transmitters, about the size of a BlackBerry™ PDA, capture and relay environmental data worldwide. The transmitters also can spot the location of ocean buoys and fishing vessels, which help enforce maritime security.

Monitoring wildlife.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The transmitters also help researchers study wildlife. For example, to track endangered species, these satellite transmitters are attached to the animals and automatically send information about their movements for up to two years. Scientists use this information to develop recovery, conservation, and management programs.

Argos is an important part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. GEOSS is an international initiative designed to help scientists better understand Earth’s complex systems so the world can better predict weather and climate, prepare for natural hazards, and protect lives and property.

For more information, visit NOAA’s Argos Data Collection and location System, Web site. NOAA logo.