US space agency NASA has announced the launch of Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft on January 29 in California, saying the mission will contribute tremendously in combating the effects of drought and helping the farmers and the scientists in taking precautionary measure.
According to the NASA scientists, SMAP will help in measuring the amount of moisture in the Earth’s soil.
The spacecraft will orbit our planet Earth in every three days or less in order to measure moisture present in the top two inches in the soil with the highest resolution as well as accuracy, said NASA in a released statement.
The radar installed in the spacecraft transmits as well as receives microwaves that are sent toward the Earth. SMAP is also equipped with a radiometer, which measures microwaves that are caused by water present in the soil, and a rotating mesh antenna which measures 19.7 foot, the largest ever deployed in space.
According to the scientists, the largest antenna will spin at about 14 revolutions a minute, i.e. one per four seconds.
The antenna was designed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena at California to fit into a one-by-four-foot space.
NASA instrument manager Wendy Edelstein said that the scientists call it the spinning lasso.
NASA’s water and carbon cycle scientist Narendra Das said, “SMAP can help in the prediction of the dramatic drought. These data can further assist the farmers plan their recovery from drought.”
SMAP can contribute immensely in providing crucial information about droughts and hence alert the scientists and farmers by giving them more detailed moisture maps.