Costa Rica launched First Satellite Developed in Central America, to Measure the Growth of its Forests.
Last April, Costa Rica starred for the first time, the launch of its first satellite to the International Space Station (ISS), the Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the first Central American satellite on board.
This is the so-called Irazú project, an initiative of the Central American Association of Aeronautics and Space (ACAE) and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR), with the support of several sponsoring companies. The project was named after a Costa Rican volcano.
Its objective will be to monitor carbon sequestration in the country’s forests, it also aims to transmit data on environmental variables from remote protected areas of Costa Rica to a ground data visualization center.
These measurements could be used for further scientific studies or to complement research already underway. The growth of trees can offer some valuable information about how much carbon a forest is capable of absorbing, information that -in conjunction with other data- is very valuable to make conservation and mitigation decisions in the era of climate change.
The most novel of this mission is that for the first time the growth of trees will be measured daily using a device developed in Costa Rica. In this Central American country, forest studies had already been done through satellite images.
This initiative had been made and is still done in conjunction with the University of Alberta by the Costa Rican scientist Arturo Sánchez, a well-known expert on the subject.
That means that the scope of science that this new satellite can make is more modest and that its contribution, rather, is to open the way for Central American countries to learn and understand how to design, build and launch their own satellites into space.
This satellite, represents much more than a simple technical feat, and will mark the entrance of the country to a field reserved exclusively to the most technologically advanced nations. With Irazú, Costa Rica enters the space race, which was initiated in the fifties, when the superpowers of the time set out to conquer new worlds, as a way to show off their ideological and military superiority.
For the launch of this satellite to be possible, Costa Rican science received the support of both the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and the SpaceX company. The project also had the sponsorship of 900 citizens from all over the world who made their contribution through the Go Fund Me site.