Delta II Rocket Launch SMAP satellite on board , photo:
With the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California launched a Delta II rocket on Saturday, the task of the launch of NASA’s newest solution – satellite SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive).
Start originally scheduled for January 29 has been postponed – on Thursday it was canceled due to unfavorable wind.
The day before the event, more than fifty people, active Facebook users, Twitter, photographers and bloggers have the opportunity to get acquainted with SMAP project based at Vandenberg organized the conference. Participants had the opportunity to visit a military base, prepared to start to see the rocket, as well as talk with the scientists responsible for the project. The entire conference (in English) is available online:
The SMAP mission is the first such project aimed at collecting information on global soil moisture, freezing her condition, and other such data. Though it may seem, it sounds dull, the project is designed to help predict the various events that affect the weather, the state sets and possible risks. High-resolution measurements of soil moisture enable scientists to observe and predict the natural dangers of extreme weather, climate change, flooding and drought. The data will allow a better understanding of the circulatory system of water, energy and carbon on earth.
SMAP will provide the most accurate – the highest resolution – maps of soil moisture, with so far obtained. SMAP satellite within three days is able to scan the entire globe. Monitoring cycles will be lasting for at least three years, to enable scientists to better understand the seasonal differences in humidity and soil condition. SMAP also check how effective are the measurements of the soil from the space.
The data collected by SMAP will be useful on many levels. Not only will allow for more accurate prediction of short-term weather forecasts, but also help you in making an overall assessment of the expected climate change. Observation of water movements on the ground will also allow better control of crops – especially in difficult areas for cultivation, and important because of the location and the number of people using the resources. It will be easier also to assess the risk of diseases associated with the stagnation of water, such as malaria and cholera.
SMAP will also allow for a more accurate assessment of the risk of drought or floods and other environmental disasters related to the frequency and intensity of precipitation.
How does a satellite? The words “active” and “passive” refers to two devices, which allow to simultaneously obtain high-resolution scans of the soil and accuracy. These two devices is a radar that actively sends a signal and measures the dispersion of the signal returning from the Earth and the microwave radiometer that passively captures naturally emitted by the Earth waves. The differences in these two signals contain information about changes of soil moisture.
The radar measurements have high resolution but low accuracy, and radiometer measurements are more accurate, but can not get such a high resolution. The combination of measurements and processing of both devices to preserve the advantages of both.
The width of the scanned during one revolution around the Earth is 1000 km area, which allows to obtain a complete picture of the world in three days near the equator, and two days in For the other areas.
For more information about the SMAP mission, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/smap
(Agata Połajewska / e)