Soil Moisture Active Passive mission

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Farm Forum

The launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted for 8:20:42 a.m. CST at the opening of a three-minute launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 30 with the same launch window.

SMAP is the first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. High resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture and whether the soil is frozen or thawed will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and will help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.

The mission will provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained, mapping the globe every two to three days from space for a least three years. The spacecraft’s final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeats the same ground track every eight days.