DR prepares to launch first satellite into space that will forecast sargassum on Caribbean beaches

The country prepares to launch into space the first Dominican satellite, which will have a high resolution camera system that will predict the date, place and amount of sargassum that will reach the Caribbean beaches each season.

The Dominican satellite will facilitate collection of sargassum before its arrival on the coast and it will reduce the impact it causes on tourism in the country and the region.

The satellite, no more than 2.2 kilograms in weight and which will be at a low height, similar to that of the International Space Station, designed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by the astronautical and space engineer Edwin Sánchez and the engineers Iván Jiménez, Juan Samuel Pérez, all teachers of the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC).

“We are currently in the pre-assembly phase of common parts of the satellite,” announced Sánchez.

Release date

It is estimated that the launch of the Dominican satellite will be in 2026 and its commissioning will allow the Dominican Republic, as well as the other Caribbean islands and countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, to develop early warning protocols for the annual arrival of algae, so that their impact on the beaches is minimal.

The launch would mark the beginning of a space program led by INTEC.

The early collection of sargassum makes it easier to process these algae more efficiently and some of its possible uses under study are the production of biogas, fertilizers, souvenirs and decorations for the home; “There is a very large industry that can be created with this problem,” said the researcher.

National and international institutions provide support

The funds for the implementation of the project are provided by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (Mescyt), through the Fondocjt initiative, which budgeted about 5.5 million pesos for the design and operation of the satellite, and INTEC which added about an additional 2 million.

In addition to the INTEC Aerospace Sciences Research Group, in QuisqueyaSat 1 the Sapienza University of Rome, the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC), the Higher Institute for Defense (INSUDE), the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanisms, the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) and the Punta Cana Group Foundation.

The technical team of the project is made up of the researchers Martín Meléndez, Iván Jiménez and Juan Samuel Pérez.

They also receive support from the Observatory of Climate Change and the Sargasso Research Group of INTEC and have international advice from the doctor in space instrumentation, Clara Juanes Vallejo, and the engineer expert in optics and cameras, Carlos Sanlley.

Excess sargassum on Caribbean beaches affects tourism in the region

Every year, tons of sargassum reach Caribbean beaches. This represents a problem for tourists visiting different destinations in the region because it makes the beaches dirty and, when it decomposes, it produces a bad smell and problems with collection.

The volume of these algae has increased in recent years. Scientists attribute it to climate change, which makes the seas warmer, and to the increase in the discharge of nutrients to the Atlantic by intensive agriculture in Brazil, whose waste is carried by the Amazon and Orinoco rivers to the ocean and provides food for these plants. aquatic.