NASA - SMAP Mission patch.
January 31, 2015
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft launched!
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive successfully lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:22 a.m. EST Saturday. SMAP is a three-year mission to study and map the Earth’s soil moisture, which regulates plant growth and has impacts on weather, emergency management and more.
NASA Earth Science Mission Launches
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft launched Jan. 31 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. SMAP is the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture.
The mission’s high resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather and improve our understanding of Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.
Image above: Artist’s rendering of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft in orbit.
Remote sensing instruments are called “active” when they emit their own signals and “passive” when they record signals that already exist. The mission's science instrument ropes together a sensor of each type to corral the highest-resolution, most accurate measurements ever made of soil moisture -- a tiny fraction of Earth's water that has a disproportionately large effect on weather and agriculture.
To enable the mission to meet its accuracy needs while covering the globe every three days or less, SMAP engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, designed and built the largest rotating antenna that could be stowed into a space of only one foot by four feet (30 by 120 centimeters) for launch. The dish is 19.7 feet (6 meters) in diameter.
Technology Innovations Spin NASA's SMAP into Space: http://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.ch/2015/01/technology-innovations-spin-nasas-smap.html
For more about the SMAP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap/
Images, Video, Text, Credits: NASA/NASA TV.