NASA soil moisture mission begins operations

Published on May 20, 2015 15:34:34 PM

NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission has started operations.

SMAP will map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or liquefied.

According to Dara Entekhabi, science team leader at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, SMAP data will reveal how soil moisture conditions are changing over time in response to climate and how this impacts regional water availability.

SMAP's radar and radiometer are two instruments that produce the highest-resolution, most accurate soil moisture maps ever obtained from space.

Dry conditions in the southwestern US and in Australia's interior, while moist soil conditions in the US Midwest and in eastern regions of the US, Europe and Asia are evident in the first global view of SMAP.

Improved weather forecasting and crop yield predictions are among the additional practical applications of SMAP data.

Scientists’ understanding of the links among Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles will be facilitated by SMAP, and it will also reduce uncertainties in predicting climate. It will also enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts.

Deeper insights into how the water cycle is evolving at global and regional scales will be revealed after SMAP data are combined with data from other missions like NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement, Aquarius and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment.