SMAP is designed to measure the moisture content in the top two inches of the earth’s soil with high resolution accuracy from space. To achieve this, two microwave instruments will be used — a synthetic aperture radar and a radiometer. The findings will then be correlated with data regarding earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles to give accurate soil moisture measurements recorded till date.
SMAP data will also assist in disaster response management, emergency planning and region-specific policy making about agriculture and water management. This data will be crucial in prediction of droughts, floods, availability of water across different areas and carbon intake of plants to analyse increase in length of seasons.
Consequently, a global map of freezing and thawing soil moisture data will be made and is expected to be released every two to three days over a lifespan of three years.
The aircraft currently rests in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California where it arrived from NASA’s Jet Propulsion System (JPL) on October 15. The project is being collaborated on by JPL and Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland and will be launched by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.