Out of This World: SMAP Satellite is Set to Launch

SMAP Satellite

NASA has confirmed a satellite launch for the 29th of January.  The SMAP satellite is intended to circle the globe and gauge the planets soil moisture and report it back to researchers on the ground.  The Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite, known as SMAP for short, is going to measure the soil through the use of microwave technology.

The SMAP features a mesh antenna that will expand after it reaches its peak orbit patter, and is said to be the most efficient piece of technology ever mounted onto a research satellite.  It is also the largest antenna ever to be mounted onto a research satellite in the world, reaching approximately 20 feet wide after it fully expands.

The SMAP satellite will use both passive and active instrumentation to provide the “highest resolution, most accurate” measurements of soil moisture to date.  This could bode well for future farming across the planet according to scientists.

“Verifying we don’t have hitches, that the lattice doesn’t hang up on the supports and tear when its installing — the majority of that requires exceptionally vigilant designing. We test, and we test, and we test some more. We have an exceptionally steady and powerful framework now,” said instrument administrator for the SMAP Wendy Edelstein.

NASA expects the process of being able to detect dry and wet spells at record times could help ranchers out significantly.  Ranchers can then regulate their irrigation systems to the dry spell’s size, and then can determine if they want to plant other harvests that can compensate for the dry spell.

Narendra Das, a researcher involved in the SMAP mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says, “SMAP can help in foreseeing how staged dry spell will be, and after that its information can help agriculturists plan their recuperation from dry spell,”