The Smos spacecraft launched on Monday to study the Earth’s water cycle has passed a key mission milestone.
The European Space Agency (Esa) satellite has successfully unpacked the three-armed antenna it will use to acquire its data.
Smos will investigate the hydrological cycle by measuring changes in soil moisture and ocean salinity.
It will do this by observing variations in the natural microwave emission coming up off the planet’s surface.
The data is expected to have wide uses but should improve weather forecasts and warnings of extreme events, such as floods. …
Smos information will result in a better understanding of the hydrological cycle – the description of how water is constantly exchanged between the Earth’s land and ocean surfaces and the atmosphere.
The satellite is expected to help improve short and medium-term weather forecasts, and also have practical applications in areas such as agriculture and water resource management.
In addition, climate models should benefit from having a more precise picture of the scale and speed of movement of water in the different components of the hydrological cycle.
The satellite is part of Esa’s Earth Explorer programme – eight spacecraft that will acquire data on issues of pressing environmental concern.
The Smos programme cost is about 315m euros ($465m; £280m). It is led by Esa but with significant input from French and Spanish interests. The satellite is expected to operate for at least three years. …
Do you think this or some other unfurled instrument has the technology to monitor every living creature on earth by looking through buildings and forests at heat signatures?