NASA’s latest Earth-observing mission, Soil Moisture Active Passive Satellite (SMAP), launched successfully on January 31, 2015. The satellite rode atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II that was launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base early Saturday morning, and its solar arrays have deployed.
Using a 6-meter-diameter rotating antenna-the largest of its kind flown in space–SMAP will gather a complete set of data for the entire Earth every third day to tell us the following:
- Where on earth is ground water frozen?
- Where is it thawed?
- How much water is concentrated in any one area?
- How do all these factors affect water going from the soil into the air to the clouds?
All of these data can be used to predict droughts or floods.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration.