NASA to launch first Earth-observing mission todayWashington: In another major breakthrough, NASA will today launch its first US Earth observing satellite called Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission (SMAP) that will help scientists predict weather conditions more accurately.The purpose of this satellite
Washington: In another major breakthrough, NASA will today launch its first US Earth observing satellite called Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission (SMAP) that will help scientists predict weather conditions more accurately.
The purpose of this satellite is to keep an eye on global surface soil moisture.
The SMAP satellite's most prominent feature is its rotating mesh antenna, which measures nearly six metres across – the largest ever deployed in space.
In a statement NASA said, “SMAP will provide high resolution, space-based measurements of soil moisture and its state – frozen or thawed. The mission will map the entire globe every two to three days for at least three years and provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained.”
According to the US Agency, through SMAP scientists will be able to predict more accurately on natural hazards like drought, floods and climate change. Input received through SMAP will increase understanding of the Earth's carbon cycles, energy and water cycle.
The satellite will also befit farmers, especially of developing or under developed nations who depend largely on rain to irrigate crops.
The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 98.5 minutes. This mission took almost three years of planning and cost the government $916.
SMAP will take off from Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.