NASA launches groundbreaking Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory lifts off from Space Launch Complex 2 West at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, beginning a three-year mission to map Earth’s vital moisture hidden in the soils beneath our feet. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA successfully launched its first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet.The Delta 2 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory now begins a three-year mission that will figuratively scratch below Earth’s surface to expand our understanding of a key component of the Earth system that links the water, energy and carbon cycles driving our living planet

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory’s instruments will be turned on 11 days after launch.Nasa hopes the data collected from the three-year mission will help scientists to monitor droughts and improve flood forecasts.

Further information:

NASA launches groundbreaking SMAP observatory

BBC News report including video: NASA launches satellite to observe soil moisture

Guardian News Report, including video: NASA’s climate change satellite blasts off